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Endeca blends BI into search

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Endeca has updated its analytical search software, claiming that the new version is even better at discovering the relationships in both structured and unstructured data.

The Endeca Information Access Platform (IAP) is a cross between a search engine and business intelligence (BI) software, according to Jeff Boehm, the company's BI strategy director.

He said that most search engines can hunt through unstructured data such as documents or email to find specific information, but can't see the relationships or trends in what they find. Conversely, BI tools can mine data to provide insight and analysis, but typically only for structured data such as a database or OLAP cube.

"The market has been artificially segmented between the two, because of the false assumption that you can't mix documents and databases, say," he added.

"We built a new engine that identifies the key terms and concepts in what it finds - we call it a meta-relational engine. So as well as your search results, you get the attributes to set them in context."

The release of IAP version 5 this week is the result of a year-long push to add BI capabilities to Endeca's enterprise search software, Boehm said, adding that the most important part of combining the two is relationship discovery.

The software automatically pulls out terms from the search results and then cross-references these, looking for ones that occur disproportionately often in the search results compared to the total data set.

A neat trick is it can then display the terms it has found, increasing or decreasing the lettering size according to each word's popularity or relevance, in order to highlight possible relationships.

"It brings out relationships that you wouldn't otherwise see, or which would need a BI tool's power-user interface," Boehm said.

IAP v5 also includes controls allowing a business to adjust how results are listed - to prioritise by date, for example - and has additional adapters and SOA support for integration with other enterprise applications, including IBM DB2 AlphaBlox, Salesforce.com and EMC Documentum.

Boehm added that privately-held Endeca's users include IBM, the US Defense Intelligence Agency, Nike and Boeing, plus in the UK, Boots, Comet, The Guardian, Lastminute.com and Tesco. Some use its software to help visitors search their websites, some use it internally for data analysis and some do both.

Its rivals include the likes of Autonomy and FAST Search; however, both the BI vendors and the search rivals - from Google to Microsoft - are also keen to get in on the act. ®

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