So you bought the "yellow box," the Google Search Appliance, hoping to bring Google simplicity and familiarity to all your enterprise data flows, but now you want to link externally licensed databases into that flow. Or perhaps you want to include some internal databases operating in real time and unsuitable for Google-style indexing. Or maybe you are teetering on the brink of moving from the "yellow box" to a full-featured, sophisticated content management system that will require a massive commitment of effort and funds. Adhere Solutions (www.adheresolutions.com) and its partner, MuseGlobal (www.museglobal.com), have an alternative to offer—federated search built in and on the Google Search Appliance.
Adhere Solutions is a certified Google Enterprise Partner, which builds enterprise products supported by Google APIs (application programming interfaces), services they claim can deliver enterprise solutions "at a fraction of the cost and time of traditional enterprise search technologies." Drawing on MuseGlobal’s extensive Source Factory of more than 5,400 federated searching connectors, the company has now launched the All Access Connector. The new service promises to extend the Universal Search concept to internal and external databases, repositories, subscription content sources, data feeds, web-mining and line-of-business applications. Both Erik Arnold, director of Adhere Solutions, and Mark Moorehead, senior vice president of product development at MuseGlobal, confirmed ("Absolutely") that the new service could handle video, audio, multimedia, graphics, etc.
MuseGlobal builds connectors that, according to Moorehead, consist of "three pieces of information, two unique, and one variable by installation. The two unique are a map of the query language supported by the connector that handles the query syntax or structure. We build a question-asking map based on what the target system supports (Boolean, fields, etc.), then we map them to our internal search representation. The second element is the canonical form of any record that comes back into an internal data representation with a tagging set for fields of information, for example. The third component, specific to the installation, provides permission and authentication details. It can have layers for the local manager, individual or enterprise accounts, etc. When people choose a source, it’s all unfurled." Moorehead also indicated that they can have multiple connectors for a single vendor. "For example, some vendors have more than one method of authentication or basic versus premium views of data. We also have template class connectors. We can map for specific topic areas." Some enterprises might use connectors to reach pay-as-you-go alternatives for less-used files, extending MuseGlobal’s service beyond licensed and subscription data sources.
Arnold points out that Google Search Appliance buyers often do not fully exploit the potential of the tool. "At Adhere, we saw that there was a lack of understanding in the marketplace around the Google Search Appliance. Because it is an ‘appliance,’ people did not realize how they could extend it to access all types of information. Everyone knows that their users want to "Google" (a verb for an easy to use system with good relevance), but few organizations provide their users the tools that will allow them to do their job in the most productive manner. As the Google Search Appliance is easy to set up and configure, many people do not realize how far that you can extend it."
The new All Access Connector, specific to Adhere Solutions, provides access to whichever of the 5,400-plus connectors that the client may choose from MuseGlobal’s Source Factory, providing one-click entry to external sources through a proxy server. MuseGlobal keeps its connectors up-to-date with any changes in target service protocols. It also complies with any authentication and security policies with a role-based search access model that can deliver search results based on the user’s role, location, or task. Users can navigate search results by source, subject, date, and other metadata categories. According to Moorehead, there are options for setting relevancy scores on all results and for normalizing reports based on relevancy ranking. It can also integrate results from Google’s web index and Custom Search Engine services, as well as distribute search results through Web Gadgets. It can integrate multiple Google Search Appliances in different departments and branches of an enterprise, according to Moorehead. The new service is compatible with other Adhere Google Search Appliance extensions, like Guided Navigation, Clustering, Query Refinement, Entity Extraction, Search-as-you-Type, Social Keymatch, and One Box Connectors.
I asked both Arnold and Moorehead whether this federated content might also work with an enterprise’s public website. Both confirmed it could as long as there were no intellectual property barriers. For example, Arnold suggested the case of "a publisher website where part of the archive was in other hands or a publisher with multiple outlets who wanted the ability to search across all properties without having to re-index."
The price for the All Access Connector starts at $90,000. Of course, this does not include the cost of the data. Neither Adhere Solutions nor MuseGlobal handle any licensing tasks involved in dealing with vendors or data providers.
According to Arnold, "Adhere Solutions will provide Google Enterprise customers with support throughout installation and configuration as well as applications built exclusively for the Google Search Appliance." Describing his initial interaction with MuseGlobal, Arnold said, "They will license to anybody. I approached them with wanting to bring this service to the Google Search Appliance. Nobody else is doing that."
Adhere Solutions has other feature packages available for clients using the Google Search Appliance version 5.0. They include a Content Connector Framework with prebuilt connectors for the leading enterprise content management (ECM) systems: Microsoft SharePoint, IBM FileNet, OpenText LiveLink, and EMC Documentum. For security, it offers a Windows Integrated Authentication Google SAML Bridge and Support for SAML SPI, as well as secured crawling and serving of secured file shares. Search improvements include a Date Biasing feature that lets administrators set search rankings based on the age of documents; Do-It-Yourself KeyMatches to let users promote specific webpages for certain search terms; parametric search to tap internal data’s metadata capabilities; and a network of end-user features built around Google Search Appliance capabilities. It also can build customized services tapping into Google Custom Search Engines, Google Earth, Google Maps, Gadgets, etc.
MuseGlobal markets its federated service through OEM’s and partners. Other current partners include Wolters Kluwer Health (Ovid); FAST Search and Transfer ASA (acquired this year by Microsoft); Mark Logic Corp.; Endeca; Swets; UWIRE; SirsiDynix; Innovative Interfaces, Inc.; Groxis; Janium Technology; Softlink International; Transtech Information Co.; Librisite S.A. de C.V.; ELiDOC; Brodart; UpSNAP; Jones Knowledge; and ProQuest/CSA.
John Blossom of Shore Communications (www.shore.com) commented on the new service:
We hear lots of talk about workflow as the key solution that’s going to enable value-add enterprise content services to build new revenues, but the ability to pull together a comprehensive set of sources that their customers’ users really need to do the job is a slow and laborious process oftentimes for many subscription database providers to accomplish. At the same time enterprise portal providers are stymied oftentimes by users who refuse to use their solutions to any great degree because they’re used to getting the answers they want from the search engines they rely upon as their real "go-to" workflow solutions. The All Access Connector solution offered by Access Solutions and MuseGlobal offers both camps a lot to think about as they ponder how best to ensure that they are delivering the content that their users want in the applications that drive their productivity the most. The era of The New Aggregation’s ability to deliver more content value from more content sources more rapidly than ever is upon us in full, indeed.
As for future plans, Moorehead pointed out that the current offering is version 1.0. "We are planning to expand the offering at some point so we can offer the All Access Connector as a hosted solution later this year." Arnold described Adhere Solutions’ grand strategy: "We are trying to provide a complete solution to the marketplace on how to leverage Google. In a typical scenario, someone gets the Google Search Appliance, having heard how easy it is to just plug it in and get going. But then they want to do X, Y, and/or Z and move upstream to a more sophisticated system. I’m trying to educate the marketplace to bring us in and get set up to extend the Appliance’s reach, to see if they really need to go to a big complex enterprise search environment. Instead we suggest they invest in services for the Google box before they go to the higher end. That is the gap in the marketplace we are trying to fill."