Tag Archives: Microsoft

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

Microsoft’s Lessons for the eDiscovery Industry

Microsoft imageThe announcement that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is set to retire within 12 months naturally spurred some thought on the analogous plateauing or even demise of prominent eDiscovery software firms in recent years. In my view, there are two general lessons to be gleaned by the eDiscovery industry from Microsoft’s troubles.

The first is about the speed of change in this industry. Three years ago, the PC was king and predictive coding was a fairly obscure term. Now, mobile devices, cloud, social media and desktop virtualization have relegated the traditional PC to the road to legacy status. And we all know the story of the tidal wave that is the predictive coding craze of 2013.

And this leads to the second and related lesson, which is the difficulty for dominant companies to stay innovative in such a fast-changing environment. This past week featured a lot of commentary from business and technology pundits, mostly making fairly obvious points about Microsoft missing the boat on smart phones, tablets and the Vista and Windows 8 debacles. But in terms of the bigger picture, I like the analysis from Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, who summoned wisdom from 14th Century North African philosopher Ibn Khaldun:

“One insight (Khaldun) had, based on the history of his native North Africa, was that there was a rhythm to the rise and fall of dynasties. Desert tribesmen, he argued, always have more courage and social cohesion than settled, civilized folk, so every once in a while they will sweep in and conquer lands whose rulers have become corrupt and complacent. They create a new dynasty — and, over time, become corrupt and complacent themselves, ready to be overrun by a new set of barbarians.

I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to apply this story to Microsoft, a company that did so well with its operating-system monopoly that it lost focus, while Apple — still wandering in the wilderness after all those years — was alert to new opportunities. And so the barbarians swept in from the desert.”

And I think it’s even less of stretch to apply this story to the eDiscovery software industry. For instance, in speaking to a couple of eDiscovery executives last week, they lamented that a dominant review tool his company relies on, had in their opinion become “long in the tooth” with the executives of that software provider no longer very accessible. Another leading eDiscovery software vendor recently launched a major upgrade to their flagship product resulting in palpable user exodus as the new version was much more complex, with a brand new interface that fell flat. Basically straight out of the Windows 8 playbook.  Not be outdone in its loss of focus, a similar and also market leading company now supports, by my count, at least 12 different products and at least 5 different markets.

And I think this trend of disruption is accentuated in the eDiscovery field because even the dominant players do not have several million in idle funds for research and development into cutting-edge technologies that will not produce meaningful revenue in the near term. Instead, they have to answer to investors of various stripes who demand that quarterly revenue numbers and positive near term cash flow are met. It’s the classic innovators dilemma.

What this means for key buyers of eDiscovery software is that they should be open to change and consider avoiding lock-in with seemingly dominate vendors who could only be months away from being displaced by the barbarians from the desert.

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Filed under eDiscovery & Compliance, Enterprise eDiscovery

SharePoint eDiscovery: Ten Times the Cost

Sharepoint no colorOur recent webinar on SharePoint eDiscovery challenges with eDiscovery Journals’ Greg Buckles featured a substantive and detailed discussion on the nuances, pitfalls and opportunities associated with eDiscovery of data from SharePoint sites. This topic is very timely as the majority of enterprises are deploying the Microsoft platform at an accelerated rate, with the solution reaching $1 billion in sales faster than any other Microsoft product in history. As SharePoint enables enterprises to consolidate file shares, Intranet sites, internal message boards and wikis, project management, collaboration and more into a single platform, it provides significant operational efficiencies as well as eDiscovery challenges. The vast majority of current SharePoint deployments are versions 2007 or 2010, and neither have meaningful internal eDiscovery or even export features.

Greg Buckles is a well-known eDiscovery expert with a strong command of technical issues concerning data collection from SharePoint sites. In his presentation, he addressed the particular challenge of preserving data from SharePoint in a targeted matter and in context. According to Buckles, current eDiscovery practices involve mass raw data exports from the platform, instead of a preferable practice of review and early case assessment in place to enable a far more efficient and targeted collection of only potentially relevant information. Bulk exports from SharePoint contain a mass of unstructured data that is out of context with no easy way to associate files, document lists, metadata fields and the many other native data types and fields. As a result, the data must be sorted out on the back-end in time-consuming and highly manual eDiscovery processing and review efforts.  Buckles reports that he routinely sees tenfold increases eDiscovery processing and review costs because of these challenges.

A full video recording of the webinar can be accessed here.

Another key SharePoint eDiscovery challenge involves its deployment architecture. By their nature, typical SharePoint deployments are de-centralized as the solution is geared toward supporting individual departments and “teams” as opposed to forcing data centralization to a single and large data center. Appliance-based eDiscovery solutions or remote collections do not work as it may take weeks if not months to copy a multi-terabyte SharePoint site over a network connection and a large corporation may have several dozens of SharePoint silos to collect from.  Manual collection efforts, which are geared toward mass “data dumps,” are as mentioned very costly and inefficient.

Instead, what is needed is a solution such as X1 Rapid Discovery can quickly and remotely install and operate within the same local network domain to enable localized search, review and early case assessment in place. X1 Rapid Discovery’s full content indexing and preview of native SharePoint document libraries and lists, as well as it robust search, document filters, intuitive review interface, uniquely enables targeted and contextual search, preservation and export of SharePoint evidence in its native format. In fact we believe it is the only solution available that enables true in-place early case assessment and eDiscovery review of SharePoint sites, including iterative search, tagging and full fidelity preview in place, without the requirement to first export all of the data out of the Platform.

To learn more, sign on to the recorded webinar or please contact us at info@x1discovery.com for a further briefing to learn how to save your organization or your clients tens of thousands of dollars on litigation costs associated with SharePoint.

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Filed under Best Practices, eDiscovery & Compliance, Enterprise eDiscovery, Information Management