IBM and Yahoo have upgraded the free enterprise search software they jointly launched last year, adding new advanced search, customization, and global language support capabilities into the product.
IBM OmniFind Yahoo! Edition lets corporate users find and access files and Web content on corporate intranets and Websites.
The software combines Yahoo!’s Internet search engine and user interface search page with OmniFind’s Web file search capabilities that crawls and indexes web content on intranets and websites. The indexing core is based on the Apache open source project Lucene, an indexing library
The new version, released today, bumps up the advanced search capabilities of the software to include advanced searches on metadata. The previous version of OmniFind Yahoo! Edition limited queries to documents. Now users can incorporate tagging and metadata to refine search results and create more targeted queries on top of baseline search results.
IBM has also added more customization capabilities into the user interface, allowing users to tweak the graphical search interface (for example, adding custom corporate logos or styles or including content from third-party sources) without dipping into the API or having to do custom coding.
The search management capabilities of the tool have also been improved. Systems administrators can now invoke and control the schedule of the Web crawlers directly from the command line of the API.
Finally IBM has also broadened the globalization capabilities of the software, adding support for over a dozen new languages, bringing the total up to 15. These include Brazilian Portuguese, simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Dutch, Hungarian, Polish, Portuguese and Swedish.
The company said that more than half of the software’s 16,000 downloads to date were from outside the US.
Aaron Brown, program director for content discovery and search at Armonk, New York-based IBM, said the freeness of the product was intended to act as a door opener for organizations that were not thinking of deploying a dedicated search solution.
Enterprise search is fast growing market but still has a low penetration in many organizations. That’s why we have a philosophical alignment with Yahoo! which is a ubiquitous name in search.
Brown said the product is consciously designed to be easy to install and use, with no up front investment, making it an ideal entry level search offering for organizations of all sizes.
Early adopters of the product include manufacturers, consulting firms, financial services organizations, school districts and state and local government agencies.
Brown also pointed to a growing community of 800 active partners and developers that are rallying around the product.
‘We’ve built a strong Web community around the product with users actively participating and in dialogs around engineering new capabilities.
We’ve been very engaged with that community.
Brown also pointed to a thriving partner eco-system around OmniFind Yahoo! Edition, with companies like iCentera using the software to drive search capabilities in its on-demand CRM portal offerings.
Brown believes that OmniFind Yahoo! Edition will change the entry-level dynamics of the search market, providing a free alternative to low-end offerings from Endeca, Google, Autonomy and FAST that range from a couple of thousand dollars up to $50,000.
However Brown stressed that OmniFind Yahoo! Edition is not designed to replace enterprise search engines like Autonomy and FAST, but is positioned as entry-level search tool that’s limited to 500,000 documents.
Our goal is to transform the search landscape by making enterprise search a free capability that everyone can download and deploy easily.
In many ways it’s an on-ramp for allowing a new class of organization to use information assets to improve their business, which is a key part of [IBM’s] Information On demand strategy.
That said IBM also harbors ambitions to convert many OmniFind Yahoo! Edition users to its high-end OmniFind Enterprise Edition, which is a high-end search infrastructure product that includes connectors to databases and enterprise content managements system something that is lacking in the OmniFind Yahoo! Edition.
Brown said that a handful of OmniFind Yahoo! Edition customers have already upgraded to the full-scale Enterprise Edition software after trying out the free version.
We see [OmniFind Yahoo! Edition] as providing an on-ramp into richer set of search capabilities that IBM provides.
We’re confident we’ll see a lot more conversions in the next couple of months.