Autonomy, the enterprise search and knowledge-management company in the process of being taken over by Hewlett Packard, has acquired a local partner in the form of Pasis, a consultancy specialising in enterprise architecture and associated development for a wide range of government departments and private companies.
In August HP started the process of acquiring Autonomy for $US10billion; the fourth largest ever software/services acquisition in history. Its interest in the company “says a lot about what our competitive strengths are, as well as our intellectual property”, says Autonomy’s Australia/NZ managing director Dean Maher. The company has 170 patents across advanced knowledge management and search of structured, unstructured and semi-structured data, he says – casting a sidelight on the local debate over the value of software patents.
Pasis began in 2006 in London, says managing director Jack Spain; its first product was “point and shoot” – an easy to set up integration server; hence the name – an acronym the company has kept as its sphere of operations has expanded.
“We’re an IT architecture consultancy,” says Spain, but more than just a body-shop that puts an architect into the client company for a fixed time. “We sell full service architecture solutions; we provide you with the architect, some business analysis to support that and we have some project management capability to put some structure around it and try to nurse the solution all the way to implementation.
“Most of our people work on a project basis, so instead of parking them with one client for a time, we can put them round two or three clients at once. That broadens their skills. From a client perspective that’s very cheap; you’re not paying for an architect when he’s not needed.”
The New Zealand company was incorporated in 2009 and now has 12 staff in Wellington.
Autonomy has much more than enterprise search, says Spain; “but that’s our primary focus.”
The search product “has the reputation of being very expensive; but very capable,” he says. “We’ve seen it run facial recognition on video, voice to text and practically any kind of document repository.” What attracted him particularly was the product’s support for adaptors to link with various kinds of data repository.
Most products claim versatility in this department, but in reality a lot of configuration effort is needed. “This delivers out-of-the-box. Point it to the repository and next day results come out.”
Autonomy came out of research at Cambridge University in 1996. The capabilities of its software go well beyond keyword search, says Maher; it separates out the meanings of a word and clusters around them terms associated with that specific meaning: “Java could mean part of Indonesia or a software development language or coffee. Around that might be smell and aroma or sun and surf or technology.
“It’s very much about working the way human brains work.”
Autonomy technology identifies the patterns that naturally occur in text, voice or video files based on the usage and frequency of terms that correspond to specific concepts. This enables it to sort out the different meanings that could confuse a simpler search tool.