CIA's technology arm taps open source for search

Lack of enterprise backing doesn't stop agency adopting the technology

The company in charge of providing technology to the US intelligence community, has invested in an open-source firm to provide enterprise-search technology to the CIA and other intelligence agencies.

In-Q-Tel is investing in Lucid Imagination, which provides support, maintenance, training and add-on software for the Apache Software Foundation's Lucene and Solr search projects. Lucene is an information retrieval library that can be used for full-text indexing and search. Solr is an enterprise-search server based on Lucene.

The companies did not disclose the nature of the investment, but said it is aimed at making Lucid's open-source enterprise-search software more prevalent in the US intelligence community.

Lucid officially launched in February after securing initial funding in October of last year, said Anil Uberoi, chief marketing officer of the fledgling company.

"You can think of us as the Red Hat of Lucene," he said, providing support and maintenance to customers who want to use Lucene and Solr for enterprise search. In fact, many of the leading developers who commit code to those projects are the founding technical members of the company, he said.

In-Q-Tel handles technology requisitions for about 18 organisations, including the CIA and the US intelligence community at large, Uberoi said. Many of these organisations have wanted to use the Apache Lucene and Solr projects to do enterprise search, but were hesitant to do so without official vendor backing, he said.

"They were very nervous about not having a commercial entity to support this," Uberoi said.

Indeed, search analyst Stephen Arnold in a blog post said that several intelligence organisations have already been using Lucene and Solr for enterprise search, and having Lucid to back their investments gives it the green light for more mission-critical applications.

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Tags open sourceciatechnologyIn-Q-Tel

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