Yesterday was the final day of the SharePoint conference. I chose to attend a morning session lead by Jeff Fried, CTO & VP of Engineering at BA Insight and Guy Mounier, Co-Founder & CEO of BA Insight. This session is a vendor-sponsored session, which means that the vendors are free to discuss their specific products and tools. I have worked in the past with previous versions of BA Insight and I was curious to see what they had in mind for working with Office 365.

I have known Jeff for a few years and he is one of those people that I always expect to give a top-notch presentation; I can say that this time was no exception. I appreciated the clarity and information that Jeff and Guy provided around the various search options.

Information Silos

The first piece of information that Jeff and Guy presented was around the concept of information silos --different groups of people working with different data sets throughout the entire organization. Because so many different people are working together on so many different things, bringing all the data together again can prove to be a difficult process. This problem is definitely not a new issue with organizations, but we are definitely starting to see this problem highlighted and brought to the front of our minds with the addition of different cloud services.

More than Just a Search Box

One of the next demos shared was the use of various search components to create a dashboard type experience for the end-user. These dashboards provide a simple way to bring together multiple data sources and information in an easy-to-read format. I love examples like this because they really help show the power of the simple things. From there Guy then showed some of the additional tools that BA Insight deploys within SharePoint.

I have seen previous versions of the BA Insight tool, but this was my first time seeing these tools in action. I liked what I saw and would definitely recommend anyone with advanced search needs to take some time to look into the products they have to offer. They also gave us a sneak peak of a future release product that brings local and federated search together in a single results view. I am interested in seeing more about this product once it is released.

Understanding Search and Importance of Audits

For the remainder of the session Jeff walked us through the various search scenarios available. His approach was straightforward and easy to understand. What I appreciated most about this was the way that a vendor took to the time to really understand the tool and present it in a way that was easy to comprehend. Listed below are the most common search scenarios:

  • Search On-Premise Content from an On-Premise Implementation
  • Search Online Content from an On-Premise Implementation
  • Search On-Premise Content from an Online Implementation
  • Crawl Online Content from an Online Implementation

Within each of these scenarios we discussed the various options for searching and the different tradeoffs. The one thing that stood out the most to me was the importance that they placed on the concept of auditing the search scenario. Since there can be so many combinations of approaches, it is important to fully understand the trade-offs and then monitor your selection to ensure that you are providing the best solution.

Most of the issues discussed seemed to be around bandwidth and security. Since there are so many different components to consider, these two items can in many cases cause you to stumble and run into technical issues. Performing an audit should help you identify these issues and then adjust your solutions as needed.

The Future of Search in the Cloud

Finally, to close out the demo Jeff talked us through the issues of search that carry into the cloud and specifically the Office 365 implementation. He discussed the different features that are currently available. He also shared some of the solutions that BA Insight has currently released that are based on integration with Azure. It was great to hear about the different things they are currently implementing as well and learn a little about how Azure will be used in the future for more solutions in the cloud.

I think the most important take away from all of this is that there is more coming, so I will be watching them closely to see what new solutions and tools that they will be bringing to market. I’d encourage all of you to take a few minutes and check out their website and tools and then contact them to see a demo or get more information about what they have to offer.

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