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Treading on IBM and Google toes

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Oracle is beefing up its enterprise search, by offering links to non-Oracle applications and data repositories. The idea is to make it a compete more creditably in this fieled against Google and IBM.

The database giant today unveils the snappily named Oracle Secure Enterprise Search 10g release 10.1.8, which is now capable of supporting data sources and object stores from at least five major third party providers. Oracle Enterprise Search 10g supports Microsoft Exchange and Sharepoint software, IBM's Lotus Notes, and enterprise content management systems from Open Text, FileNet and EMC Documentum.

Additionally, Oracle has launched the Secure Search Initiative to encourage independent software vendors to build more connectors to other third-parties' information sources, such as desktops and business intelligence software. Other changes include a virtual identity directory so Secure Enterprise Search is capable of working with users' existing ID servers including Microsoft's Active Directory, Novell eDirectory, Sun's Java System Directory Server, and OpenLDAP, without the need to port users' security information to Oracle.

Federated search is also included, so servers can be based locally and results consolidated to maximize search results without overloading servers or the network. A suggested links feature will throw up potential results users might want.

Out of the box

Secure Enterprise Search is set to grow in importance for Oracle. Currently available as a stand-alone search tool, Oracle is to make it available in all its applications. Secure Enterprise Search is already shipping out-of-the box as part of Siebel CRM 8, announced last week.

Oracle Enterprise Search indexes and searches public, private and shared content in websites, databases, file and mail servers, CMS and document repositories. It's secure because Oracle's identity management software stops users from accessing data sources and documents they are not allowed to view.

According to Oracle, its search combines the ease of use of an internet search engine that users have now come to expect from all their search tools, with the data and identity management rules that ensure users only get access to the information they are entitled to. By adding search to applications such as Siebel, Oracle expects help business users find and use corporate information.

Oracle has managed the unlikely feat of stepping on the toes of both IBM and Google with Secure Enterprise Search. Google's search appliances run between $2,000 and $30,000 and can trawl through more than 200 different file types, while IBM teamed up with Yahoo! in December with a free offering that combines enterprise and internet search. For full enterprise search, you fork out mucho dollars - $20,000 for an OminiFind Enterprise Edition connector license for 12 months, although the basic unit starts at $580. Both Google's $30,000 appliance and the IBM OmniFind Yahoo! edition are limited to searching 500,000 documents, though.

Oracle Enterprise Search also weighs in at $30,000 - only it's per CPU. But you get a handful of out-of-the box Oracle, Microsoft and FileNet connectors, and there's no limit to the number of documents searched. After that you're on your own, and you gotta pay for more connectors as you bring more sources online.

According to Gordon Cider, Oracle's senior director of product marketing, Oracle has IBM and Google beat on price, and beat with the product's ease-of-search coupled with security and integration with business applications.

"You see people take different approaches. You have people [IBM] who have a long history in enterprise search but don't have a very broad deployment - the biggest hurdle has been in the relative complexity of deployment. And you have people [Google] who offer simplified search but don't have the experience of dealing with complex enterprise data sources. We are trying to preserve simplicity without compromising on security.... We have a unique position in applications and have a large identity management practice," he said. ®

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