by Barry Murphy
Last week, John Patzakis here at X1 blogged about the VMworld 2014 event and how it has become the Comdex for enterprise IT. I was at the show and it was very clear that end-users are the future of IT. The trend has been talked about for quite some time and is commonly called the consumerization of IT. The heat around that topic has tended to focus on devices and not as much on what is behind information access on those devices. But, as BYOD takes off and mobility becomes increasingly important, enterprises care more and more about the flow and availability of information. Why? Because easy access to information is critical to the end-user acceptance of enterprise IT offerings; when users cannot quickly find what they are looking for, they reject what IT rolls out to them. Without that end-user acceptance, there is no chance for a positive ROI on any IT project.
End-user experience is so key that VMware has named a division of its company “End User Computing.” That EUC unit made several major acquisitions in the last year, including Airwatch and Desktone. This is because technology providers need to win the battle with end-users. For an example of a company that built its business on the backs of end-users and leveraged those relationships to bully its way into enterprise IT, look no further than Apple. As VDI users have learned, it is critical to bake search requirements into virtual desktop deployments from the get-go in order to ensure an optimal user experience. And, as Brian Katz points out in his blog, the same thing will hold true with mobile – usability will be key. That is why we at X1 are so excited about the future. X1’s user interface for search is second to none. And, users actually rave about it.
In my days as an industry analyst, I rarely had technology users raving about the tools they were using. And, I never ever had an enterprise search user tell me that their solution solved the challenge of finding information quickly. The rabid users of X1 have been an eye opener for me. In fact, an X1 customer recently polled its users and virtually every user said that X1 is easy to learn and use (no easy feat for a piece of enterprise software) and over 70% of users described their experience with X1 as very positive or positive. Those numbers are unheard of in terms of technology satisfaction.
With what I’ve learned from my days as an analyst and in my time here at X1, I’ve come up with some ways to approach enterprise search in a way that is both IT and user-friendly. We will share the knowledge in a webinar on October 9 at 1pm ET / 10am PT. We’ve titled it, “Making Enterprise Search Actually Work by Putting User Experience First.”
In this “no-death-by-PowerPoint” webinar, attendees will not only learn, but actually see how to deploy enterprise search solutions in ways that make both end-users and IT departments happy. This webinar will demonstrate both why and how to put end-user experience first. Specifically, attendees will learn:
- Why the human brain is the best analytical engine for business productivity search
- How federation can save IT time, money, and headaches
- How to best deploy search solutions in all IT infrastructures
- How to achieve ROI on enterprise search in ways never seen in the past
- That search can be like BASF – it can make many other technology deployments better, including VDI, SharePoint, and Enterprise Vault
I will be presenting on this webinar and will be joined by some special guests to be named later. Come learn why search and end-user computing go hand-in-hand.
Register for the webinar here >
Next 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.
If it seems that a lot has been written about hybrid cloud lately, that’s because there has – it is one of the hottest topics in the technology world, if not the hottest. The 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.
These benefits (there are many more, but the list would be too long) have IT departments excited to leverage hybrid cloud. As organizations gain experience with hybrid cloud, we are seeing more and more written about it. Most of what is written focuses on the hard-core IT issues. Industry blogs often dig deep in the ability to port applications from on-premise to the cloud and back without requiring re-architecting the apps or hitting major bumps in the workload function. Or, they might be about the ability to migrate server workloads to the cloud. This is clearly important stuff, but it is only painting half the picture. No one is talking much about where the information feeding these applications lives, or about how to ensure the information is accessible as needed.
This is why we need to see the full picture on hybrid cloud. The reality is the information will live all over the place and business workers will need unified access to it, without having to know the location. We should be talking about hybrid search equally as much as we talk about the other issues related to hybrid cloud. This is because end-user search experience is extremely important to executing successful IT projects. We have seen this up-close-and-in-person in the VDI market. Many organizations rolled out virtual desktops to employees and followed the best practice of turning off Windows indexing. When users went to search for their information, they were unable to do so and revolted. That is a lose-lose scenario. The solution, in that case, is X1 Search Virtual Edition – the only search solution that is architected specifically for VDI environments.
The lesson from VDI is simple: do not forget the business workers that will need to do their jobs (which tends to require finding their important emails and files quickly and efficiently). 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. If we learn from that lesson as we venture into the hybrid cloud, we can avoid the nightmares that come when users are less than thrilled with the solutions IT rolls out to them. If we think about hybrid search now, IT departments embracing hybrid cloud can be heroes to the C-Level executives tracking performance and to the business workers they serve.
by Barry Murphy
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.