Enterprise Search Solutions
In Search of the 360-Degree View of the Enterprise
ENTERPRISE SEARCH NOW GOES BEYOND TRADITIONAL DATA SOURCES
Enterprise search or intranet search applications are holistic solutions that make corporate data - structured and unstructured - easily and securely available to intended users within an enterprise. Subsets of information are sometimes also made searchable for customers and business partners.
A SINGLE ENTERPRISE SEARCH PORTAL FOR ALL KNOWLEDGE
Enterprise search systems can be defined by the following characteristics:
- Indexing multiple, disparate document repositories, which are heterogeneous in nature, contain a variety of file formats and are often topologically distributed around the corporate network
- Serving a range of user needs, from deep, specific research, to simple fact-checking and document retrieval
- Supporting business-critical processes through customized search capabilities
- Fully respecting all document-level security restraints imposed by the various document repositories involved
- Providing a universal user interface for search results presentation
- Integration with Natural Language Processing, Knowledge Graphs, and Machine Learning for improved search relevancy and personalization
This goal of implementing an enterprise search system that meets these requirements is often referred to as a quest for a "360-degree view" of the enterprise.
WHY IT'S HARD TO MAKE SEARCH EASY
Building a successful enterprise search application is primarily about addressing an organization system's unique issues. The core indexing and query functionality provided by leading search engine vendors is mature, reliable, and scales well. Peripheral issues are the ones that tend to pose the key challenges. Among these are:
- Data connectivity: Implementing and maintaining sustainable connectivity to capture content and metadata
- Content processing (enrichment, cleansing, and normalization
- Query processing, to support and enhance user queries
These key challenges are exacerbated by the relentless growth of data. For example:
- Data growth overwhelms standard crawl/ingestion strategies, especially where the data is remote
- As data volumes grow, metadata capture and enhancement, and content processing prior to indexing, become increasingly important for “findability”
These are situation-specific issues that can only be addressed through the application of expertise.
OUR APPROACH TO ENTERPRISE SEARCH IMPLEMENTATION
In our experience, most enterprise search implementations can be classified into one of the following categories:
Many enterprises have corporate initiatives to establish central repositories of enterprise content, and Microsoft SharePoint is increasingly used as the solution, with varying degrees of success. SharePoint 2013 includes good standard search capabilities, though this does not preclude the consideration of other technologies for enterprise search projects.
An enterprise search solution can work quite well when all content to be indexed is within the SharePoint environment. However, when much of the content is in remote repositories (ECM systems, SAP systems, file shares, websites, etc.), additional challenges are posed which require specific expertise. For further information, see Enterprise Search with SharePoint 2013.
Heterogeneous repository environments
For a number of different reasons, many enterprises also choose to maintain multiple "best-of-breed" content repositories versus a centralized solution. These heterogeneous content environments can result from the natural evolution and federation of IT infrastructure, as well as from merger and acquisition activity. It is not uncommon to see organizations with a dozen or more repositories in use. However, the need to access, process and index multiple, heterogeneous, and distributed content, can pose challenges that require unique search expertise to address.
Open source search engine pioneers
Apache Solr has been around for more than 10 years and is a popular choice for web-facing search applications. It is simple and straightforward in nature, and so may not always meet the complex needs of enterprise search solutions.
Elasticsearch is gaining excellent traction and is based on the same Lucene (and other proven open source utilities) roots as Solr. Elasticsearch is also often paired with Logstash (for log management) and Kibana (for user interfaces) in a full architecture stack for search-enabled applications.
A growing number of enterprises are now considering open source solutions built around Solr and Elasticsearch for enterprise search. They accept that it won’t always work out-of-the-box and that customization and expertise will need to be applied.
LEVERAGING EXPERTS TO MAKE SEARCH EASY
With deep expertise in search technologies, we have helped enterprises develop or migrate enterprise search solutions based on both open source and commercial technologies. Depending on your requirements, we can help you select and deploy a custom enterprise search system that meets your business needs while delivering a better experience to your users.
We've built, delivered, and managed enterprise search solutions for hundreds of clients, including:
- Fortune 500 and Global 2000 enterprises
- Government organizations
- Non-profit and charitable organizations
- Research organizations
- Educational institutions
Contact us to see how we can help your organization build or enhance your enterprise search application.