Tag Archives: search

Search as a Desktop Virtualization Enabler

Desktop_virtualizationby Barry Murphy

 

Too often, search is taken for granted.  When I first started doing research on eDiscovery in the cloud, the prevailing attitude was, “as long as information is searchable, eDiscovery is taken care of.”  Sadly, many organizations have learned the hard way that it is not that easy.  There is much more to search than meets the eye.  But, most organizations do not figure that out until it is too late – until search does not work in the desired manner or at the required speed.

eDiscovery is not the only area where search is overlooked and becomes an issue.  In fact, search is a critical function for today’s knowledge worker.  Despite the importance of information access, unified search of workers’ most critical assets (email, files, desktop content, and SharePoint) is not always a huge requirement of IT organizations.  It is to end-users, however, and that is one of the reasons that X1 has had such success with the Search 8 product – it has a user-friendly interface that provides simple, fast access to the information assets users need the most.

The lesson that I have taken away from being involved in the search market is that search as a standalone application may not seem sexy, but it provides a real return on investment.  It also allows organizations to ensure that investments in other technologies are optimized.  This fact can be seen especially in virtual desktop (VDI) environments.  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.

It is the little details of IT projects, however, that can have big impact on results.  Some organizations find that the cost savings anticipated from VDI are less than expected because of high disk resources necessary to support Windows indexing on the virtual desktop.  Or, best practice is followed and Windows indexing is turned off – and then users are unable to search for information on their desktops.  There are two possible outcomes from this, and both are bad:  either users are rendered unproductive because they cannot easily find information or they simply reject the virtual desktop and find ways around the system.

In order to ensure that VDI deployments meet expectations, organizations can build unified search into requirements early on.  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.  As I mentioned, though, search is often an afterthought – an issue that only comes up after a VDI deployment where end-users complain or reject the solution outright.  That is why it is important to make search a requirement early on.

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.   It sounds simple, but traditional search solutions are not architected for this.  We at X1 are doing a webinar with Citrix on this very issue – enabling lightning-fast search in VDI environments.  The webinar is on April 10, 2014 at 1pm ET / 10am PT.  Please click here if you would like to join us to learn how to use search to enable optimization of desktop virtualization deployments.

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Filed under Desktop Search, Enterprise eDiscovery, Information Access

Dr. Michael Levitt: World Famous Scientist, Nobel Laureate, and X1 Power User

Michael Levitt Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2013

Michael Levitt
Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2013

Recently I had the distinct honor of speaking with Dr. Michael Levitt, a 2013 Nobel Prize winner for Chemistry, and highly regarded Professor of Structural Biology at Stanford University. The Nobel Committee awarded Dr. Levitt a Nobel in recognition of his research in computational biology, “for the development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems.” He is also a “huge fan” of X1. When Dr. Levitt and I spoke, he discussed his daily use of X1 Search and how it is essential to his research and professional productivity. “X1 saves me many hours per week,” per his unsolicited email to us at X1 that initiated our dialogue, “I cannot survive without it.”

A computer-savvy scientist, Dr. Levitt relies on a Macintosh laptop with VMWare virtualization running a Windows OS, where he stores 200 gigabytes of data, including 40 gigabytes of over 300,000 emails, and of course relies on X1 to make sense of it all. “Next to my computer itself, X1 is the one tool I can’t do without,” explained Dr. Levitt.  “People use the term ‘big data’ a lot these days, but the most important ‘big data’ for me is the 200 gigabytes on my laptop that consists of decades of research, important communications with fellow academics, and other key resources.  X1 enables me to find what I am looking for instantaneously. It is a very effective interface to all of my information.”

Dr. Levitt credits X1’s lightning-fast, iterative and faceted search capability, along with X1’s reliability and stability, as enabling him to quickly and tactically sift through 200 gigabytes of emails and academic research. “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 addition to locating his research and other critical data, X1 proved very handy to Dr. Levitt in managing an important email response project. “When I was awarded the Nobel, I received over two thousand congratulatory emails. I used X1 to cross reference my sent folder to make sure I replied to them all. That X1 shortcut saved me several hours alone!”

Dr. Levitt’s testimonial echoes similar sentiments expressed by many high-powered business professionals at top financial institutions, major law firms, consulting companies and science and engineering firms. They all rely on X1 to dramatically enhance their productivity by quickly locating their information amongst an ever-increasing avalanche of emails and other data.

We here at X1 extend our congratulations to Dr. Levitt for his 2013 Nobel prize in Chemistry, as well as our sincere thanks to him for reaching out to us and sharing his enthusiastic feedback on X1 search, which, incidentally, is completely gratis. “Just keep developing great software” is all he asked for in return.

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For more information about X1 Search 8, including a free 14 day trial, please visit here >

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Filed under Case Study, Desktop Search

X1 Rises Again

Computerworld logo

Earlier this month Robert Mitchell at Computerworld proclaimed that X1 had reemerged in the world of search with X1 Search 8, the new release of our flagship and industry-leading X1 desktop search. (See: X1 Rises Again with Desktop Search 8, Virtual Edition). I think Computerworld is spot on and aptly describes the response and success of X1 Search 8. X1S8 (or “8”) is major advancement of X1 Search.  As mentioned on our recent webinar showcasing X1S8, I wanted to thank our hundreds of thousands of loyal and longtime X1 customers, plus many of the new customers joining us in recent weeks since our highly successful launch of 8.

Overall the response has been tremendous! Since the May 7 release, we have seen shattered sales records coupled with very exciting feedback from our customers, new and old. Based upon the feedback, three improvements to X1S8 are particularly resonating. One is the new and streamlined interface that, combined with a faster and more responsive product, provides an enhanced and highly intuitive user experience. Second, our business users from enterprises large and small are very happy with the built-in and integrated SharePoint support (see video here). And finally, the unique support of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) demonstrates that X1 is once again a cutting edge technology that supports our customers’ current as well as future requirements.

X1 has always been a great solution. In July 2010, Network World declared the previous version of X1 to be the leader in its class, selecting X1 as its Clear Choice winner ahead of competitors such as the native Windows Outlook search and Google desktop search. Perhaps not coincidentally, after Network World anointed X1, Google shortly thereafter announced the end of life for its desktop search. Additionally, with Windows 8, Microsoft is apparently moving away from integrated desktop search as the latest Windows OS no longer features a federated search option.

What this means is that X1 not only has risen again, but has a clear lead in the field of search as 8 is a major upgrade to our award-winning previous version. This is particularly true given the virtualization capabilities of X1S8, which we will now be rolling out to many large enterprises that previously could not support any desktop search within their VDI environment. We believe that eventually desktops will be hosted in the cloud, which will require a cloud-based virtual desktop architecture, which X1 already and uniquely supports. So X1 is ready for the cloud when our customers are.

Recently X1 has enjoyed the support of a number of investors who have enabled us to double down on our support of current customers and the development of next generation search and eDiscovery solutions to support enterprises large and small. This includes our enterprise eDiscovery strategy, but it also means channeling additional resources into our core X1 desktop search technology. Look for more innovations to support our loyal customer base including new mobile support, and search of hybrid cloud. And if you haven’t yet seen X1 Search 8, please take it for a spin with a free trial available at this link.

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Filed under Desktop Search, Virtualized Environment

Authenticating Internet Web Pages as Evidence: a New Approach

By John Patzakis and Brent Botta

In recent posts, we have addressed the issue of evidentiary authentication of social media data. (See previous entries here and here). General Internet site data available through standard web browsing, instead of social media data provided by APIs or user credentials, presents slightly different but just as compelling challenges.

The Internet provides torrential amounts of evidence potentially relevant to litigation matters, with courts routinely facing proffers of data preserved from various websites. This evidence must be authenticated in all cases, and the authentication standard is no different for website data or chat room evidence than for any other. Under Federal Rule of Evidence 901(a), “The requirement of authentication … is satisfied by evidence sufficient to support a finding that the matter in question is what its proponent claims.” United States v. Simpson, 152 F.3d 1241, 1249 (10th Cir. 1998).

Ideally, a proponent of the evidence can rely on uncontroverted direct testimony from the creator of the web page in question. In many cases, however, that option is not available. In such situations, the testimony of the viewer/collector of the Internet evidence “in combination with circumstantial indicia of authenticity (such as the dates and web addresses), would support a finding” that the website documents are what the proponent asserts. Perfect 10, Inc. v. Cybernet Ventures, Inc. (C.D.Cal.2002) 213 F.Supp.2d 1146, 1154. (emphasis added) (See also, Lorraine v. Markel American Insurance Company, 241 F.R.D. 534, 546 (D.Md. May 4, 2007) (citing Perfect 10, and referencing MD5 hash values as an additional element of potential “circumstantial indicia” for authentication of electronic evidence).

One of the many benefits of X1 Social Discovery is its ability to preserve and display all the available “circumstantial indicia” – to borrow the Perfect 10 court’s term — to the user in order to present the best case possible for the authenticity of Internet-based evidence collected with the software. This includes collecting all available metadata and generating a MD5 checksum or “hash value” of the preserved data.

But html web pages pose unique authentication challenges and merely generating an MD5 checksum of the entire web page, or just the web page source file, provides limited value because web pages are constantly changing due to their very fluid and dynamic nature. In fact, a web page collected from the Internet in immediate succession would very likely calculate two different MD5 checksums. This is because web pages typically feature links to many external items that are dynamically loaded upon each page view. These external links take the form of cascading style sheets (CSS), graphical images, JavaScripts and other supporting files. This linked content can be stored on another server in the same domain, but is often located somewhere else on the Internet.

When the Web browser loads a web page, it consolidates all these items into one viewable page for the user. Since the Web page source file contains only the links to the files to be loaded, the MD5 checksum of the source file can remain unchanged even if the content of the linked files become completely different.  Therefore, the content of the linked items must be considered in the authenticity of the Web page. X1 Social Discovery addresses these challenges by first generating an MD5 checksum log representing each item that constitutes the Web page, including the main Web page’s source. Then an MD5 representing the content of all the items contained within the web page is generated and preserved.

To further complicate Web collections, entire sections of a Web page are often not visible to the viewer. These hidden areas serve various purposes, including metatagging for Internet search engine optimization. The servers that host Websites can either store static Web pages or dynamically created pages that usually change each time a user visits the Website, even though the actual content may appear unchanged.

In order to address this additional challenge, X1 Social Discovery utilizes two different MD5 fields for each item that makes a Web page.  The first is the acquisition hash that is from the actual collected information.  The second is the content hash.  The content hash is based on the actual “BODY” of a Web page and ignores the hidden metadata.  By taking this approach, the content hash will show if the user viewable content has actually changed, not just a hidden metadata tag provided by the server. To illustrate, below is a screenshot from the metadata view of X1 Social Discovery for website capture evidence, reflecting the generation of MD5 checksums for individual objects on a single webpage:

The time stamp of the capture and url of the web page is also documented in the case. By generating hash values of all individual objects within the web page, the examiner is better able to pinpoint any changes that may have occurred in subsequent captures. Additionally, if there is specific item appearing on the web page, such as an incriminating image, then is it is important to have an individual MD5 checksum of that key piece of evidence. Finally, any document file found on a captured web page, such as a pdf, Powerpoint, or Word document, will also be individually collected by X1 Social Discovery with corresponding acquisition and content hash values generated.

We believe this approach to authentication of website evidence is unique in its detail and presents a new standard. This authentication process supports the equally innovative automated and integrated web collection capabilities of X1 Social Discovery, which is the only solution of its kind to collect website evidence both through a one-off capture or full crawling, including on a scheduled basis, and have that information instantly reviewable in native file format through a federated search that includes multiple pieces of social media and website evidence in a single case. In all, X1 Social Discovery is a powerful solution to effectively collect from social media and general websites across the web for both relevant content and all available “circumstantial indicia.”

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Filed under Authentication, Best Practices, Preservation & Collection