IBM delivers Masala in a hurry

Beta testers wanted to use search software in production, says IBM

IBM is hastening the release of the latest version of its enterprise search software for unstructured data, codenamed Masala, because of customer demands to go into production with the beta product.

Masala will now be generally available with the next couple of months, says the director of IBM’s information integration software group, Nelson Mattos.

Mattos, who is based at the IBM Silicon Valley Laboratory in San Jose, was in New Zealand last week to talk to clients about enterprise search technology and the IBM software, which is about database integration and analysing unstructured data in real time.

“Information integration is a very hot area,” he says. “The demand is about to explode.

"Corporations have databases everywhere, plus email content management, spread sheets and the like — distributed data on different platforms. To make decisions, they need an integrated view of that information.”

Last year, IBM introduced DB2 Information Integrator, which can access data across disparate systems in real time. The tool doesn’t need to be customised other than for very specific proprietary repositories and works across all the main relational databases.

Masala is the latest version and includes enterprise search technology that enables the user to use plain text.

“By delivering an interface which enables searches to be expressed in natural language, there is a huge productivity boost,” Mattos says.

“Masala has been available in beta since early this year, and we’ve got really positive feedback. Customers are demanding to go into production on beta, so we’re speeding up general availability, and the product will be released in the next couple of months.”

There are three organisations beta-testing Masala in New Zealand.

IBM has also formed a partnership with New Zealand developer Hyperbolex and will include its product, The Mole, in Masala. The Mole is complementary technology that allows content analysis and profiling on the fly, showing only the relevant parts of a document.

Mattos says The Mole is what a business intelligence tool such as Cognos or Business Objects is to a data warehouse but in a world of unstructured data.

Masala will include Event Publisher, which will notify the user when certain changes occur in a database, say, changes in the value of a share price.

The enhancements to last year’s release will also allow structured queries over disparate data from ERP systems such as SAP and PeopleSoft.

“We’ve also done a large amount of work around performance and we’re getting up to 10 times improvement,” Mattos says.

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