Tag Archives: Enterprise 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

As Desktop-as-a-Service Gains Traction, Do Not Overlook Productivity Search

by Barry Murphy

Oftentimes, federal government agency IT departments are technology early adopters because of mandates to cut costs and increase efficiencies and business agility. It is not surprising, then, to see FCW.com pointing out that agencies are embracing Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). Benefits of VDI include simpler and more automated systems administration, better control over security (always a big factor for government agencies), and lower costs for client-side support. Those “hard” benefits are only part of the story – VDI also enables worker mobility (especially important to the Department of Energy) and helps enable more “green IT.” Because VDI provides a zero client environment, it can reduce the required power consumption per desktop, thereby reducing the environmental impact of the agency’s IT systems. This is perhaps more of a soft benefit, but a necessary one nonetheless.

As the FCW article states, there are now two options for deploying VDI: on-premise and through the Cloud, as Desktop-as-a-service (DaaS). There are good market options in both directions, with on-premise providers like Citrix and VMWare, and DaaS providers such as Amazon (with its Workspaces offering) and the aforementioned VMWare (with its Horizon offering). Whichever direction an organization chooses for its VDI, it is critical to remember that business worker adoption and acceptance is the key to ROI. In my experience, one thing that scares business workers when moving to VDI is the potential loss of easy access to their information assets. With VDI, it is a best practice to turn off Windows indexing, and that can leave a business worker without the ability to search for his or her information.

DaaS

With VDI in the Cloud, the DaaS provider will want to manage virtual computing resources diligently – also meaning that desktop indexing will likely be turned off. And with government agencies increasingly storing information in the Cloud, it can make search of that data a challenge. There is an opportunity to ensure a better business worker transition in these environments – build in productivity search requirements up front. Business worker access to information is an important component of easing any kind of end-user angst when transitioning to a new desktop environment. Providing these workers with unified access to common information like email, files, and SharePoint will help with change management and user acceptance. And it is important to stress again – without the end-users, there is no ROI on these VDI projects. Therefore, the upfront productivity search requirements should include a search solution that supports VDI environments and that is deployable in the Cloud, like X1 Rapid Discovery.

The move is on to VDI in the federal government, and industries like financial services and professional services are also in the midst of VDI roll-outs. These early adopters will set the trend of many industries. If the early adopters require excellent business worker productivity search experiences, acceptance of these new technologies will be much smoother and more successful. And that is good for everyone – VDI vendors and customers.

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Filed under Best Practices, Cloud Data, Corporations, Desktop Search, Enterprise Search, IaaS, Information Access, Information Management, Records Management, Virtualized Environment

Amazon to Host Cloud Webinar on eDiscovery and Enterprise Search

Amazon Web Services2On June 27, Amazon Web Services (AWS) will be hosting a first of its kind webinar by a major cloud provider addressing the topics of eDiscovery and enterprise search.  Per AWS, the webinar will explore solutions that allow organizations to quickly search, identify and act upon distributed data, whether it resides within the enterprise or within the AWS cloud. Vikram Garlapati, an Amazon Web Service Solutions Architect, will lead off the discussion. This is the first time, to our knowledge, that Amazon will be publically addressing eDiscovery in the cloud and featuring a solution like X1 and also the first time they will be featuring a third party enterprise search solution to enable search within the IaaS cloud.

While SaaS hosting of eDiscovery services and some limited enterprise search capabilities by a vendor from their own servers is not new, this webinar will effectively be addressing a very different topic: deploying search solutions for eDiscovery and business productivity into an organizations’ public cloud instance where their data resides. This allows instant and lightning fast indexing, searching, and review of that data in place without having to first export that data out of its native cloud environment.

Also presenting will be LTech CIO Eric Klotzko.  LTech is a cloud systems integrator and AWS partner who is a major proponent of next-generation enterprise search and eDiscovery solutions that install and operate in virtual environments.  Eric will underscore the limitations of traditional enterprise search solutions that are hardware appliance-based or require an extensive manual on-site install process, thereby rendering such solutions as non-starters for deploying into and operating within virtualized cloud deployments.

This is a compelling, very timely topic that impacts the overall enablement and adoption of the cloud. As I blogged about previously, Federal Court Magistrate Judge Andrew Peck of the New York Southern District recently weighed in on public comments on eDiscovery in the cloud. Judge Peck noted that data stored in the cloud is considered accessible data under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (see, FRCP Rule 26(b)(2)(B)) and thus treated no differently by the courts in terms of eDiscovery preservation and production requirements as data stored within a traditional network. This brought the following cautionary tale about the costs associated with not having a systematic process for eDiscovery:

Judge Peck told the story of a Chief Information Security Officer who had authority over e-discovery within his multi-billion dollar company who, when told that the company could enjoy significant savings by moving to “the cloud”, questioned whether the cloud provider could accommodate their needs to adapt cloud storage with the organization’s e-discovery preservation requirements. The cloud provider  said it could but at such an increased cost that the company would enjoy no savings at all if it migrated to the cloud.

Having just visited Amazon Web Services headquarters office and meeting with several key senior managers, it is clear this issue is a priority for AWS. This is precisely the reason why we developed X1 Rapid Discovery, version 4. X1RD is a proven and now truly cloud-deployable eDiscovery and enterprise search solution enabling our customers to quickly identify, search, and collect distributed data wherever it resides in the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) cloud or within the enterprise.

As far as the major cloud providers, the ones who choose to solve this eDiscovery challenge (along with effective enterprise search) with best practices technology will not only drive significant managed services revenue but will enable a far more rapid adoption of cloud computing.

Please stay tuned for more exciting developments in this next frontier of eDiscovery and enterprise search.

A recording of the webinar is available here >

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Filed under eDiscovery & Compliance, Enterprise eDiscovery, IaaS, Virtualized Environment

Next Generation Desktop Search for Law Firms and the Enterprise

We are taking a break from eDiscovery and investigations to discuss some big news in the world of X1 search. Today I am excited to announce that we launched a major upgrade to our popular desktop search software, X1 Search 8. In addition to a new, very sleek interface (see screen shot below), and a faster and more scalable index, X1 Search 8 (X1S8) features two distinct game-changers.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

First, X1S8 comes with a built-in SharePoint connector. SharePoint is proliferating throughout the enterprise, and X1S8 provides an outstanding search experience of SharePoint, which we believe is a vast improvement over native SharePoint Search. All search results are displayed in a single sortable view with a full-fidelity preview pane, in the same view as your local files an emails. The feedback from many enterprises is that X1 now has the best search of SharePoint in the business.

The second game-changer is that X1 Search 8 is fully compatible with desktop virtualization. Finding content is difficult enough on a traditional desktop, but the issue is compounded with the virtualized variety. There are many compelling benefits to desktop virtualization, but the architecture does not facilitate or even enable traditional desktop search solutions. X1 Search 8 provides search capabilities across physical, virtual and cloud environments with results returned in a single pane. X1 was specifically architected to uniquely and seamlessly operate in virtual desktop environments, including popular Citrix solutions XenApp and XenDesktop.

Here is a 2 minute video demo overview and another demo video specific to our integrated SharePoint search support.

At just $49.95 per seat, X1 Search 8 is a time-saving, intuitive tool that saves enterprises time and money. For more information, visit www.x1.com.

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Filed under Cloud Data, Enterprise eDiscovery, Virtualized Environment