Forrester has published its latest assessment of theenterprise search market. The study assesses twelve vendors, surprisingly noneopen-source, and finds the most popular players are getting more competition –especially in specialized capabilities.

The Shape of Enterprise Search

Although most people associate the emergence of search withthegrowth of the Internet and companies such as Lycos and Google, one of the earliest instances of search technology is much older and focused on amuchsmaller space than the web. IBM created one of the earliest searchengines inthe late 1960s to help it more quickly locate informationwhen it was suedby the U.S. government.

Today, the impetus for search enterprise search is much thesame asit was decades ago: Findinginformation quickly. We just haveexponentially more information and often haveto find it more quickly.Despite the age of search, according to Forrester,many organizationsdon’t see enterprise search as a fundamental service likeemail.However, as content sizes continue to grow, become more diverse and the workplace is filled with a generation of web-savvy workers who justexpectsearch to work, enterprise search solutions that help staff quicklylocateinformation in disparate and diverse sources is becoming more ofa necessity.

In the report, Market Overview: Enterprise Search, Forrester segments enterprise search products into threespaces:

  • Specialized -- products that use search to addressa need in a specific area like customerservice or to supplementbusiness intelligence platforms
  • Integrated -- products that merge searchcapabilities with other information managementfunctions like contentmanagement, collaboration or analytics; the goal ofthese products isto become deeply ingrained in the technology portfolio sothat the useof the tool becomes a ubiquitous part of the informationworkplace
  • Detached -- products like Google’s appliance focused on ease of deployment andflexibility

The Evaluation

Forrester evaluated twelve vendors/products in its MarketOverview:

  • Autonomy IDOL 7
  • Attivio AIE 1.3
  • Coveo Platform 6.5
  • Endeca Latitude 2
  • Exalead CloudView 5.1
  • Fabsoft Mindbreeze 5.0
  • Google Search Appliance 6.8
  • IBM Content Analytics with Enterprise Search 2.2
  • ISYS Enterprise Server v9.7
  • Microsoft FAST Search for SharePoint Server 2010
  • Sinequa ES 7
  • Vivisimo Velocity 8.0

Enterprise search products from Oracle, OpenText and SAPwereexcluded because Forrester felt their solutions were only relevant for customers using the vendors’ portal or line-of-business applications.Popularopen-source enterprise search engine Lucene/Solr was excludeddue to “lack of track record and/orin-house deployment expertise” according to the report. However, Lucene is the underlyingplatformfor IBM’s solution, which was included on the list. Given the size of the Lucene/Solr open source community, the complexity of applicationssupportedby the software and the current number of deployments, it is surprising the lack of confidence Forrester has in the product.

Vendors were assessed on ten criteria:

Learning Opportunities

  • Mobile support
  • Federation model
  • Indexing and connectivity
  • Social and collaborative features
  • Management and analysis
  • Security
  • Semantics/text analytics
  • Interface flexibility
  • Relevance model
  • Platform readiness

and rated as excellent, very good, good, fair or poor foreachcriterion. Forrester used vendor demos based on four scriptedscenarios,customer feedback and the product’s features listed indocumentation toevaluate the enterprise search tools.

The Results

Surprisingly, Vivisimo’s Velocity 8.0, a platform focused on enterprise customer experience, performed best of all the enterprisesearchproducts, scoring either an excellent or very good for eachcriterion. IBM’s new ContentAnalytics with Enterprise Search 2.2 faredworst; Forrester did not grant “BigBlue” an excellent for anycriterion and criticized it as lagging behindother products’ social,relevance tuning and reporting features. Microsoftfared similarly toIBM, earning no excellent ratings on the evaluation criteria,butForrester assessed several features such as federation, indexing, relevance models and interface flexibility as very good.

The other vendors scored similarly, but showed strength indiverseareas. For example, Coveo was the only vendor rated excellent for its mobile capabilities, and Sineqa’s ES 7 scored excellent for itssemantic/textanalytics features. Attivio and Google both received thestudy’s only poorrating, Attivio’s for its lack of managementsophistication and Google for theweakness of its semantic functions.

Forrester goes on to predict the cost of enterprise searchand levelof vendor specification will continue to grow over the next few years as vendors continue to attempt to differentiate their products.

As with similar studies, everyone, including me, will have anopinionon whether Forrester’s evaluations are valid or why their preferred vendor was excluded. Because there is clearly a subjective/qualitative dimension,thestudy should be used an information point rather  than marchingorders for enterprise platformselection.