Category Archives: Desktop Search

X1 Changes the Game in Hybrid Cloud Search with Box Connector

by Barry Murphy

The Enterprise File Sync and Share (EFSS) category is hot right now.  This is not a surprising fact.  In the research document Parting Enterprise Users From Consumer EFSS Solutions Will Be a Challenge, Gartner estimates that, “by 2018, 50% of an enterprise’s data will reside external to the data center.”  EFSS vendors provide enterprises with more structured ways to collaborate and share information both on-premise and in the cloud.  The Gartner document goes on to state that, “an off-premises public cloud implementation of EFSS can help an organization isolate data from its data center and simplify easy sharing of information assets to individuals outside the firewall and located across multiple regions.”  For this reasons, EFSS vendors like Box are growing rapidly and gaining large enterprise customers.

Obviously, if half of an enterprise’s data will reside external to the data center, then half will still live within the data center or locally on users’ machines.  No matter where data is being stored, though, the fact remains that the ability to search that data will be critically important.  Workers still demand unified access to their most important information assets, and they want a highly intuitive search experience with fast-as-you-type search results regardless of where the data lives.  In other words, users require business productivity search.  X1, with the Box connector, provides just that in a way that not only pleases users, but also gives IT a lot of flexibility.

With X1’s Box Connector, users can now add Box accounts as data sources, and search emails, files, SharePoint, and now Box content in a single-pane-of-glass.

Box screenshot

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Not only do users get a single interface in which they can search across all of their critical content, but they also get all of the benefits that simply come with X1 – fast-as-you-type search results, full-fidelity document preview, and post-search actions (PSAs).  In the case of Box content, the PSAs are valuable because they are specific to things users would normally do within Box.  For example, directly in the X1 interface, users can elect to send a document as an attachment or as a link.

Click to enlarge image

Click to enlarge image

In addition, users can integrate Box more directly into their personal workflows because X1 will allow a PSA on content from other data sources (e.g. SharePoint) to Box.

This is important, as IT organizations like the flexibility that X1 provides in terms of how users can search Box content.  There is an option to index Box documents and store them in the users local index.  The content is not stored locally, but the index is, so users get immediate results.  Of course, it may not be feasible to have an index stored locally for a variety of reasons, so there is also an option for users to remotely query their Box account without the need to store each item in the local index.  IT also has fine-grained control over how indexing takes place.

Click to enlarge image

Click to enlarge image

Any solution that makes both end-users and IT happy is a promising one.  In this way, X1’s hybrid cloud search capability is a game-changer. As more and more organizations systematically use EFSS vendors like Box, this federated search capability will become even more important.  And, the great news is – it’s available right now from X1.

So far, beta customers are extremely enthusiastic about the search experience that X1 provides for content in Box.  In fact, we strongly believe that no other solution provides this kind of search experience across local and Box content.  Customers tell us that they can search and filter through Box content faster than ever before.  At X1, we would respectfully challenge anyone to identify a better solution for this purpose – neither we nor our many joint X1/Box customers are currently aware of one.

We invite you to try for yourself:

X1 Search is available for sale at $49.95 per license for single users (Box connector included), with an annual support fee of $19.95. Buy now >

Silent installation of the X1 Search client and other enterprise deployment options are available for large-scale deployments. For more information about enterprise licensing and purchases, please contact info@x1.com.

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Filed under Business Productivity Search, Desktop Search, Enterprise Search, Hybrid Search, Information Access

VMworld 2014 Hot Topics – VDI, Hybrid Cloud & Mobility

VMworldNext week, the VMworld conference kicks off and all of us at X1 are excited.  VMworld gives X1 the opportunity to introduce our newly-minted VMware Ready products – X1 Search 8, X1 Search 8 Virtual Edition, and X1 Rapid Discovery – to VMware users.  Perhaps more importantly, though, the conference is an opportunity to hear where the world is moving with regard to several hot topic areas:  VDI; hybrid cloud; and mobility.

Desktop virtualization promises many benefits: lower IT costs; streamlined administration of IT assets; and end-user flexibility in terms of accessing the desktop from anywhere.  Given the popularity of BYOD, the consumerization of IT, and the need for mobility to support telecommuting, VDI is becoming more and more important.  There look to be some compelling sessions at the show about customer successes using VDI that will show not only that the benefits of VDI are real, but also how others can learn from those successes to continue to drive VDI adoption.  At our booth, X1 will continue to remind folks building unified search into VDI requirements early on can optimize VDI deployments.  At the very least, this will help to ensure that end-users are more receptive to the virtual desktop and allow them to remain productive.  Getting end-users to buy in is often half the battle when deploying new technology.  When it comes to VDI environments, a good search solution must decouple the search UI from the indexing service.  Otherwise, indexing will require virtual desktop computing resources and cut into VDI cost savings.  The goal is to minimize the RAM usage and search client footprint on the virtual desktop.

Hybrid cloud is a combination of a private IT infrastructure and a public cloud.  The public and private cloud infrastructures then communicate over an encrypted connection and can port data and applications back and forth.  Hybrid cloud is hot because it delivers real benefits:  increased speed of access time and reduced latency because of an on-premise, private infrastructure that is accessible directly as opposed to through the internet; more flexibility to have on-premises infrastructure that can support the average workload and to leverage the public cloud when the workload exceeds the power of the private cloud component; and more flexibility in server designs that can lower the costs of storage.  X1 will detail to booth visitors how unified search of information no matter where it lives – cloud, on-premise, hybrid – can make hybrid cloud environments more user-friendly.  Products like X1 Rapid Discovery enable hybrid search that lets IT glean all the benefits of hybrid cloud while ensuring end-users are happy with their ability to find information.

Mobility is an important topic and complementary to both VDI and hybrid cloud.  VDI and hybrid cloud environments will enable business professionals to be mobile and productive.  One of the keys to productivity is fast, easy access to information – and that is exactly what X1 provides.  The architecture for X1 Search 8 Virtual Edition stands to enable better access to information on more and more devices.  We are excited for VMworld because it means the opportunity to meet further with the VMware Airwatch team and understand how X1 can continue to partner with VMware in new and innovative ways.

If you are going to be at VMworld, please come see X1 at Booth #2436.  We would be happy to show you our products and how they can complement existing or planned VMware investments.

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Filed under Corporations, Desktop Search, Enterprise Search, Hybrid Search, Uncategorized

The “Desktop” Of The Future

In talking with a business acquaintance recently, a question came up about the future of desktop search:  what happens when the desktop is no longer the interface of choice for business professionals?  It’s a great question, and one I clearly have a vested interest in given X1’s status as the leading desktop search engine.  The reality is that today’s workers access their information from a variety of interfaces across many devices.  What we need to do is think of the desktop less in a literal sense and more in terms of being a user interface for information.

Since the dawn of the PC, the desktop has been the user interface for most business professionals to access information and do their jobs.  The future of that desktop no longer lies in accessing it on a PC, or even a laptop or mobile device.  Given the speed of innovation, it is useless to try and forecast what the “desktop” will look like beyond a five-year timeframe.  Already, there are stories emerging about the desktop being built into things like tabletop coffee tables.  It is absolutely fun and inspiring to see developments like this and to know we are making forward progress in the tech world.  At the same time, we need to make sure that information – which will be stored in a variety of locations, too – is accessible to the business professional no matter what the desktop looks like in the future.

That is why X1’s Search 8 Virtual Edition is so exciting.  The flagship product, Search 8, represents years of experience providing a beloved user interface to a business profession’s most critical information – email, files, SharePoint, etc.  When the product first came out nearly a decade ago, most of that information was stored locally.  Thus, a local index could live on the desktop and X1 could provide fast-as-you-type search results and filtering on that local index.  Given the evolution of the desktop and the variety of devices accessing that desktop, a local index is not always a possibility.  That’s where Search 8 Virtual Edition comes in.  The client interface is decoupled from the index, which can live anywhere (typically off on a server farm).

VDI image

This allows IT teams that have invested in desktop virtualization (VDI) to turn off Windows indexing (necessary to save virtual resources) and still provide business professionals the ability to find their information.  Desktop virtualization enables many of the things that businesses value highly – especially security and mobility – and comes in its own variety of flavors.  VDI can be either on-premise and through the Cloud, as Desktop-as-a-service (DaaS).  Increasingly, DaaS offerings such as Amazon Workspaces are becoming more enterprise ready and promise to deliver desktops in a “whenever, wherever” fashion (and, as I’ve posted about before, a good search experience will be crucial to getting the most out of DaaS).

That Search 8 Virtual Edition helps enable an optimal experience with desktop virtualization and DaaS is a great thing, but the value does not stop there.  The same concept – allowing the index to be decoupled from the client interface – will enable great search experiences for mobile, which is the next big stomping ground for enterprise IT.  And, X1 is the only search vendor providing this capability.  We know that the concept of the desktop could live anywhere.  And, our customers want to be able to use X1 Search 8 even if they are unable to have a local index on their machine or device.

The term “desktop search” is already out there and meaningful to many people, so it’s not about changing what we call this market.  Rather, it’s about changing the mindset – realizing that the desktop is not just the screen on your PC, but rather the gateway to all of your important information needed to do your job.

 

 

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Filed under Desktop Search

Why the “Google Paradigm” Has Damaged Enterprise Search

by Barry Murphy

In last week’s post about what we are looking for with enterprise search, I mentioned what we call the Google paradigm.  A reader asked me to be more specific about what the Google paradigm actually is and it’s a worthy request.  The Google paradigm is actually a summation of the resulting perceptions based on the popularity of Google; those perceptions are that enterprise search is as easy as Google web search, and that a central index of an enterprise is the right way to do enterprise search.  The result of these perceptions is an approach to enterprise search that has not solved the problem of allowing business workers to easily and quickly find the information they are looking for.

It is important to note that web search is not the same as enterprise search, and therein lies the major problem with the perceptions caused by the Google paradigm.  Google is an excellent tool for informational web search – I use it frequently when researching various topics that I need to learn more about.  The point is that Google is for Web search, which uses organic linking (looking at the number of sites that link to a particular page) to determine the rank order of results.  That approach provides zero value in the enterprise because the users typically have more than an inkling of what they are looking for, and perhaps have specific criteria they know are relevant, and thus require an interface that allows them to quickly filter the result down to a manageable number.

But, in reality, enterprise search is often synonymous with Google – the web search paradigm.  There is a tendency to think of search as easy.  After all, Google completes search queries for users; it is easy to assume that technology will eventually just know what users are looking for and offer it up to them.  This message is reinforced in the age of Big Data and business intelligence.  There is a fascination with the stunning dashboards we see in CRM and SFA applications.  There is a belief that analytics will replace any need to search and find information.

While analytics will certainly help many business processes, its biggest impacts will be in feeding structured data into business processes and informing those responsible for the process of performance.    There is much value to be had in that and the Big Data market prospers as a result.  Despite the availability of advanced business intelligence tools, though, business workers still struggle to find the one email or document necessary to complete the next urgent task.  People waste hours looking for it, only to most likely recreate all that work when they can’t find what they need.  Organizations lose millions of dollars per year to this lost productivity and typically don’t even know it.  Companies implement traditional enterprise search to help employees, but only make searching more frustrating because those solutions do not leverage the power of the business worker’s brain.

Web search – the Google paradigm – has allowed us to take search for granted.  When doing a web search, however, users are typically searching for something authored by someone else and the system is using programmatic analysis to conduct the query.  For a business worker, though, search is very different.  The worker has a sense of what they are looking for because it is very specific to them – the method of analysis is personal, not programmatic.  Web search is inquisitive in nature.  But, the web search approach – which has been pushed on users by IT for years – does not work well for business workers looking for the information needed to do their jobs.

The Google paradigm also ignores the challenge of scalability.  Indexing the enterprise for a centralized enterprise search capability requires major investment.  In addition, centralization runs counter to the realities of the working world where information must be distributed globally across a variety of devices and applications.  The amount of information we create is overwhelming and the velocity with which that information moves increases daily.

 

Google_data_center

Google Data Center (Click to enlarge)

 

The image above is of a Google Data Center (one of more than several dozen that power the internet).  Look at the sheer magnitude of just what it takes to power those Web searches we are all so used to.  This illustrates exactly why it is so hard to “Google the enterprise.” And yet many people, and even CIOs, think doing so should be easy.  Such has been the approach to scaling traditional enterprise search solutions in the enterprise.  And while Google obviously has solid software to drive its web search, hardware and sheer computing power on a massive scale are essential components of Google’s success.

The only “successful” enterprise search deployments – as judged by customer references – tend to exist only in a very specific type of organization: highly regulated, with deep pockets.  These organizations can make enterprise search work because, due to regulatory and Legal drivers, they have unlimited budget for hardware to make the solution scale.  They are also able to invest in double digit FTE’s to implement and maintain the system over time.  But, these organizations represent “the 1%.”  Most organizations do not have the budget or human resources needed to make traditional enterprise search work.

There will always be hardware investments required to make productivity search work, but such investments do not need to be heavy in the way that traditional solutions have been.  Rather, organizations should look at more flexible options that mirror the realistic IT environment they live in.  That environment typically includes a hybrid of on-premise, virtual, and cloud-based infrastructure and content spread across multiple repositories.  Rarely – if ever – is content centralized.  As such, a good productivity search solution will allow access to the content that business workers need the most while leaving as little footprint with IT as possible.

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Filed under Desktop Search, Enterprise Search, Information Access, Information Governance, Information Management

With Search, What Are We Looking For?

by Barry Murphy
Needle haystack

Recently, I was contacted by an X1 user and fan and he asked me, “why isn’t X1 more famous?”  His point was that X1 Search 8 solves a problem that every company has – people can’t find their information.  They are unable to find that one email or document that they know exists, but that they just can’t remember where they put it.  This X1 fan happens to be a consultant that works with many, many companies and reported that, no matter what client he visits, all have workers that constantly complain about not being able to find what they are looking for.

It can be a marketer’s nightmare to have someone ask why your product is not more famous, but it was a question I had already been giving some thought to.  Part of the challenge when it comes to the “search market” is that most people think of Google when they think of search.  Google is easy to use and helps everyone navigate the Internet much more efficiently.  But, web search is a much different beast than search within a company.  The reality is that 80% of what business workers are looking for exists in their email, file shares, desktop folders, or SharePoint sites.  The worker knows the content exists, has an idea of what he/she is looking for, but simply doesn’t know where it is.  But, when enterprise search solutions were first rolled out, they were built like web search solutions – as if someone wasn’t really sure what they were looking for.

The misperception that the Google search paradigm can apply within the enterprise resulted in enterprise search solutions improperly conflating several search use cases.  But, web search and big data analytics – the new search du jour – are very distinct search types that require features and functions specific to their own unique workflows and use cases. Refashioning big data analytics or web search tools for enterprise search is a recipe for failure and certainly not an end-user driven requirement.

Big Data and the business intelligence (BI) tools built to address Big Data are hot topics.  And BI can deliver some very good information to workers that are managing structured processes.  Every company has deployed some kind of BI tool, but – as our consultant fan let us know – every company still has the problem of business workers not being able to find information.  That is because, when it comes to business worker search, the human brain is the most powerful analytical engine for business productivity search.  Other search solutions have sophisticated algorithms that try to predict things like document taxonomy classifications.   That can be useful at times, but not to enable search for the business worker because the interface and workflow are not designed for business productivity search.  Additionally, analytics-driven solutions require a lot of hardware to make those algorithms churn.

There is a more cost-effective way to solve the problem and ensure that business workers will stop complaining – deploy a search solution with a user-friendly interface that allows humans to use their brain to filter and sort through their information assets.  X1 Search 8 can do that – and do it in today’s virtualized and Cloud-heavy environments.  It is time to realize what business workers are really looking for when they turn to search tools – the one document they know exists that has the information necessary for them to do their jobs in any given moment.

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Filed under Desktop Search, Enterprise Search, Hybrid Search