Oracle extends reach of specialised search software

Upgrade released

Oracle has shipped the first major upgrade to the stand-alone enterprise search software it released last year, emphasising new links to third-party data sources and identity management systems.

Oracle and its applications rivals, notably SAP, see significant revenue opportunities in selling products that allow customers to search securely across their corporate databases, applications, file servers, portals and other internet sites. The vendors argue that traditional enterprise search software is often too expensive and complicated to use, while desktop search offerings aren’t well enough integrated with user authentication systems to enable secure querying.

Oracle Secure Enterprise Search (SES) 10g Release 10.1.8 is the next version of the product. In response to customer feedback on the initial version — which focused on searching data held in Oracle software — the new release also supports non-Oracle information sources, according to Greg Crider, Oracle’s senior director of product marketing. The data sources include Microsoft’s Exchange and SharePoint, IBM’s Lotus Notes and FileNet, and EMC’s Documentum.

Oracle users also requested support for third-party directory servers, Crider says, so the new release has hooks into Microsoft’s Active Directory, Novell’s eDirectory, Sun Microsystems’ Java System Directory Server and the open-source OpenLDAP identity management directories.

The new release of SES provides federated search capabilities through its Suggested Link feature to deliver real-time information as well as search results from any data source, Crider says. Federated search is the ability to send out a query to a number of distinct databases and then collect, merge and format the results to avoid duplication as much as possible.

The Suggested Link feature in SES is compatible with the OneBox standard defined by Google, Crider says, so a query can be passed to any application supported by OneBox.

Oracle has also begun a new partner program, Secure Search Initiative, to encourage independent software vendors and systems integrators to provide additional connectors into non-Oracle data sources, including user desktops and business intelligence repositories. Oracle will particularly look to partners to provide hooks into third-party data sources which have already been highly customised, Crider says.

At the same time, Oracle is both integrating and embedding SES into its own products, particularly its applications. Recently, it officially launched new versions of all of its five applications families, highlighting the search capabilities SES has made possible in its Siebel 8.0 CRM software.

To date, there have been 5,000 downloads of SES from Oracle’s website, Crider says. He didn’t comment on how many customers have actually purchased SES.

While SES is built on Oracle’s 10g relational database, SAP is adopting a different approach with its Enterprise Search offering, due out in the first half of this year. Drawing on in-memory capabilities, the SAP software will allow users to carry out queries on the fly without first having to pre-aggregate and store the information in a database.

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