Category Archives: Enterprise Search

X1’s Microsoft Enterprise Search Strategy: Better Than Microsoft’s?

By John Patzakis

microsoftIt seems obvious to say, but Microsoft is furthering its supremacy in the enterprise. While Microsoft has always dominated with is ubiquitous OS, it is dramatically consolidating its presence in terms of data sources. Outlook is only increasing in market share with corporate Gmail largely a flop and IBM’s Lotus Notes in full retreat. SharePoint continues to spread across enterprises large and small, dominating the ECM landscape. OneDrive for business, with its tight integration with the Windows 10 OS, essentially zero cost, and built-in active directory security, looks to eventually capture the enterprise file synch and sharing space. And Office 365 combines Exchange, SharePoint, and OneDrive into an integrated cloud offering (but not search – more on that in a bit). Finally, Skype for Business and OneNote round out the data sources that we believe will soon constitute up to 90 percent of enterprise data relevant for business productivity. So I would argue that we are entering a new era of Microsoft dominance.

And actually, this good news for X1 users, and we believe a key reason for the resurgent high growth we are seeing here at X1. Why? Each of those mentioned Microsoft data sources are either currently supported by X1 or will be supported within 12 months’ time, and X1 provides a much better user search experience than even Microsoft does. As an example, any X1 user will tell you X1 provides a much better search of Outlook and Exchange email than Outlook itself, and the simple viewing of this SharePoint video should convince anyone that our SharePoint search experience is far superior than that of native SharePoint. The same is true of local and network documents and very soon OneDrive (September 2015), and after that Skype for Business.

But even more important than having a better search experience for individual Microsoft data sources, what X1 uniquely provides is a popular and intuitive unified interface or a “single pane of glass” from which to search all of these various data sources. To be able to search your emails, your files, your SharePoint, your OneDrive, and all the other Microsoft data sources from that single interface is extremely compelling. In fact, Microsoft itself does not really have a single pane of glass capability. You cannot effectively search your SharePoint or OneDrive from Outlook, just as you cannot search your emails, Skypes or your local documents from SharePoint.

This new era of Microsoft data source dominance presents important considerations for organizations when selecting enterprise search solutions. Many enterprise search solutions are simply not architected to effectively support this new paradigm and thus are fighting against the Microsoft current, instead of providing a unified search platform, such as X1, that augments and strengthens a company’s Microsoft strategy. To summarize, here are five key reasons X1 excels in this new Microsoft era:

  1. X1 Starts with End User’s email and files. Most enterprise search solutions address enterprise data sources on Intranets, databases, and file shares, but ignore the end users email and local documents. This is missing about 80 percent of the end user’s key business data, while focusing on the data in the margins. To be successful in this new Microsoft era, a true productivity search solution should begin with the end users’ local emails, attachments and documents and extend to SharePoint, file shares and other key enterprise sources, all in a single pane of glass.
  2. No or Minimal Data Migration. Other enterprise search tools uniformly provide web portals for employees to search for their content. This is fine for some Intranet sites and other web-based data, but is not where you want search your day-to-day emails and working documents. And when it comes to SharePoint, any suggestion that such data should be migrated out of SharePoint just so another enterprise search vendor can search it on a similar website is a non-starter. For a successful Microsoft strategy, the indexes must be on a local, physical or virtual desktop (or laptop), indexed in place, or federate to the built-in native FAST indexes. Data migration out of Microsoft data sources no longer make any sense and should be a thing of the past.
  3. X1 Supports Virtualization and Cloud. The next generation enterprise is virtual, whether cloud or on premise. With Microsoft Azure, Office 365 and Microsoft data sources being able to be deployed in these and on-premise virtual environments, enterprise search, including desktop search (VDI and DaaS) platforms need to do so as well. This is a significant challenge for most enterprise search tools that are either hardware appliances or require intricate and labor intensive installation onto physical hardware.
  4. X1 provides a better search experience than Microsoft does. “Good enough” is not good enough when it comes to search. It does not make sense to invest in an enterprise search solution for business productivity search, unless there is a significant improvement in the end-users search experience for emails, files and SharePoint data. The main reason enterprise search initiatives fail is because the stakeholders do not appreciate that business productivity search is all about end-user experience. Without the end-users embracing your search platform in practice, as X1 users do, the project will fail, no matter how cool the analytics and advanced algorithms sound in theory.
  5. Unified Single Pane of Glass. Providing one single pane of glass to a business worker’s most critical information assets is key. Requiring end-users to search Outlook for email in one interface, then log into another to search SharePoint, and then another to search for document and OneDrive is a non-starter. A single interface to search for information, no matter where it lives fits the workflow that business workers require.

These are all very important factors for buyers of enterprise search solutions to consider in the new Microsoft era, and we of course believe X1 is uniquely up to the task.

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Filed under Business Productivity Search, Cloud Data, Enterprise Search, Virtualized Environment

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.

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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.

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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

X1 CEO Message: A New Approach to Enterprise Search Resonates

by John Patzakis

In my two and half year tenure as CEO here at X1, we have seen tremendous progress and exciting growth with our next generation search solutions: X1 Search 8 and X1 Rapid Discovery. During this time, I have taken the very valuable opportunity to listen to our end users, executive sponsors and key stakeholders in IT about their X1 experience, their input on our product roadmap, and their perspectives on broader enterprise search.

On the enterprise search front, the recurring theme we hear again and again is that outside of the data managed by X1, enterprise search is a source of major frustration for organizations. This is confirmed by survey after survey where the vast majority of respondents report dissatisfaction with their current enterprise search platform. Simply put, the traditional approach to enterprise search has not worked. This is largely because most search solutions deployed in recent years focused on IT requirements — which see search as either a technical project or a commodity —rather than being end-user driven.

At X1, however, many of our customers report real progress with enterprise search, with firm-wide X1 rollouts being major wins at their organization. We believe that X1’s unique focus on the end-user is the key. You won’t find many other business productivity search solutions where the end users drive demand, instead of the tool being imposed on the end-users by IT or systems integrators. We continually hear countless testimonials from our users, at companies large and small who swear by their X1 and cannot imagine working without it. In speaking with industry analysts and other experts in the enterprise search field, this is an almost unheard of phenomenon, where end-user satisfaction with the companies’ enterprise search platform is usually around 10-15 percent, verses the 80-85 percent satisfaction ratio we see with X1.

So in view of this customer and industry feedback, we coined the phrase “business productivity search” to differentiate what X1 focuses on verses most other enterprise search tools, which are typically re-fashioned big data analytics or web search appliances. And the feedback we’ve received on this from end-users and industry experts alike is that this assessment hits the nail on the head. Business productivity search is not big data analytics and it is not web retrieval. It is its own use case with a workflow and interface that is tailored to the end users. X1 provides the end-user with a powerful yet user-friendly and iterative means to quickly retrieve their business documents and emails using their own memory recall as opposed to generic algorithms that generate false positives and a workflow ill-suited to business productivity search.

This analysis is crystalized in the accompanying chart differentiating X1’s approach to business productivity search versus big data analytics and web search.

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These points are further explained in our four page white paper: Why Enterprise Search Fails in Most Cases…and How to Fix It.   But perhaps the most compelling illustration is this testimonial from 2013 Nobel Prize Winner in Chemistry and Stanford professor Dr. Michael Levitt, who states: “X1 is an intimate part of my workflow — it is essentially an extension of my mind when I engage in information retrieval, which is many times an hour during my workday.” In my opinion, you will not find that level of enthusiasm by end-users for other enterprise search platforms.

And X1 is a platform. Users need a single-pane-of-glass view to all of their information – email, files, SharePoint, archives like Symantec Enterprise Vault, and other enterprise repositories.  X1 Search 8 and our enterprise extension X1 Rapid Discovery provides just that – a user-friendly interface to all information that lets workers use their minds to find what they are looking for in an iterative search tailored by the end user.

But the hundreds of thousands of X1 end users know all this. The key takeaway for CIOs and other IT executives is that search is an inherently personal user experience, and the number one requirement, by far, for a successful search initiative is enthusiastic end-user adaptation. If the business professionals in your organization are not passionately embracing the search solution, then nothing else matters.

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Filed under Business Productivity Search, Enterprise Search

Amazon Re:Invent – With the Cloud, Avoid Mistakes of the Past

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the Amazon Re:Invent conference in Las Vegas. Over 13,000 people took over the Palazzo for deep dive technical sessions to learn how to harness the power of Amazon Web Services (AWS). reinventThis show had a much different energy than other enterprise software conferences, such as VMworld.  Whereas most conferences feature a great deal of selling and marketing by the host, Amazon Re:Invent was truly more of a training show. Cloud architects spent a lot of time in technical bootcamps learning how AWS works and getting certified as administrators.

That is not to say that there was no selling or marketing going on; the exhibition hall featured myriad vendors that augment or assist with AWS deployments and solutions. The focus on the deep technical details, though, does point out the fact that we are still in the very early days of the cloud. Most of the focus of the keynotes was about getting compute workloads to the cloud – there was not a lot of mention of moving actual data to the cloud, even though that is certainly beginning to happen.  But, that is how the evolution goes. IT departments need to be comfortable moving workloads to the cloud as they begin to leverage the cloud. Building this foundation is also important to Amazon – the goal would be for many companies to completely outsource the IT data center.

It is important, however, to proactive plan for information management as more workloads and, importantly, data move to the cloud.  As the internet first emerged, companies dove into new technologies like email and network file shares only to create eDiscovery nightmares and make it virtually impossible to find information within digital landfills. It is key to learn from those mistakes rather than to repeat them when leveraging cloud-based technologies. In order to ensure both that end-users are happy with search experiences on data in the cloud and that Legal can do what they need to do from an eDiscovery standpoint. This means providing business workers with unified access to email, files, and SharePoint information regardless of where the data lives. It also means giving Legal teams fast search queries and collections. But, Cloud search is slow, as indexes live far from the information. This results in frustrated workers and Legal teams afraid that eDiscovery cannot be completed in time.

If a customer wanted to speed up search, it would have to essentially attach an appliance to a hot-air balloon and send it up to the Cloud provider so that the customer’s index could live on that appliance (or farm of appliances) in the Cloud providers data center, physically near the data. There are many reasons, however, that a Cloud provider would not allow a customer to do that:

  • Long install process
  • Challenging Pre-requisites
  • 3rd party installation concerns
  • Physical access
  • Specific hardware requirements
  • They only scale vertically

The solution to a faster search is a cloud-deployable search application, such as X1 Rapid Discovery. This creates a win-win for Cloud providers and customers alike. As enterprises move more and more information to the Cloud, it will be important to think about workers’ experiences with Cloud systems – and search is one of those user experiences that, if it is a bad one, can really negatively affect a project and cause user revolt. eDiscovery is also a major concern – I’ve worked with organizations that moved data to the cloud before planning how they would handle eDiscovery. That left Legal teams to clean up messes, or more realistically, just deal with the messes. By thinking about these issues before moving data to the cloud, it is possible to avoid these painful occurrences and leverage the cloud without headaches. At X1, we look forward to working closely with Amazon to help customers have the search and eDiscovery solutions they need as more and more data goes to AWS.

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Filed under Cloud Data, eDiscovery & Compliance, Enterprise eDiscovery, Enterprise Search, Hybrid Search, Information Access, Information Governance, Information Management

The Time Has Come to Approach Search Differently

Anyone in the search / eDiscovery business lives and breathes search – we think about all day, every day because it is our livelihood.  At X1, we have many customers making real progress with enterprise search, so there can be the perception that organizations have learned to address the very real challenge of helping employees find information.  Thus, it can be surprising to run into research that shows just how bad the traditional approach to enterprise search is.

I came across the “Enterprise Search and Findability Survey 2014” on the Findwise website.  It is very interesting reading and really confirms that a new approach to enterprise search is needed.  Some of the key points, from my perspective, are;

  • Almost half of the survey respondents in large organizations (1,000 employees or more) find it difficult or very difficult to find information.
  • Almost two-thirds of respondents are either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with their existing search applications.
  • Almost two-thirds of respondents believe it is very important to improve the ability to find the right information.

Simply put, traditional enterprise search did not work.  Too many employees complain about not being able to find what they are looking for.  The search solutions deployed over the last 15 years focused on IT requirements rather than end-user requirements.  These tools required end-users to tag and rate their search results, something end-users have neither the time nor the emotional investment to do.  This very point is something that Marcus Stimler, CTO of Capgemini UI, points out on the webinar we did earlier this month – the reliance of traditional search tools on end-users to tag information leads to a lack of findability.  This survey just confirms that fact.

It is not all doom and gloom, however, as many X1 customers know.  There is a better way to approach enterprise search and it begins with the end-user.  In today’s business world, end-users know what they want.  They demand good experiences with technology.   A web page with links to search results will not cut it in the enterprise.  Users need a single-pane-of-glass view to all of their information – email, files, SharePoint, archives like Symantec Enterprise Vault, and other enterprise repositories that users might access.   X1 Search 8 provides just that – a user-friendly interface to all information that lets workers use their brains to find what they are looking for.

Beyond the desktop, X1 Rapid Discovery indexes other sources of content – either on-premise or in the Cloud – and makes the information available alongside a user’s local content.  Perhaps the beauty of this approach lies mostly with its simplicity.  Workers are happy because they can find information.  IT is surprisingly happy because they have a search tool that is easily deployable, as opposed to the traditional complex science project.  This overall happiness is a result of a new approach to enterprise search starting with end-user requirements and extending outward.  It is a subtle difference, but a meaningful one that will drive the results of future findability surveys to a new level.

For more on our perspectives on why enterprise search initiatives often fail, while X1 is invariably successful, please download this short treatise. This was inspired by direct feedback from many successful X1 install sites.  In a nutshell, X1 addresses users’ personalized requirements for business productivity search.

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A key mistake is to take big data or web search solutions and apply them to the very different use case of business productivity search. The matrix displayed here illustrates the key differences between these use cases.

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Filed under Business Productivity Search, Enterprise Search