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Monday, December 13, 2004

IBM As Google For Corporate Search

(Via News.com) Content management and search vendors have always coexisted together very happily. Now we're starting to see a unification of the two - this emerging information infrastructure is really where IBM is going, as well as Oracle and probably some others." IBM is constructing a content management and search product line through acquisitions and by sifting through the results of its research and development labs. About 300 people in IBM research are devoted to search-related topics. WebFountain is a research project that seeks to improve on simple text-matching search formulas and find more meaning in documents by examining the relationships between the words in a sentence. The company has a prototype search engine called Marvel that can even find specific scenes in video clips.
Leaving the labs : Some technologies from the labs, including WebFountain, have started to appear in products. One project, called Cinnamon, resulted in improved XML document handling in IBM's DB2 Content Manager, which is expected to be updated in the first half of next year. In terms of shipping products, IBM got a toehold into corporate search earlier this year when it shipped DB2 Information Integrator, which was code-named Masala. An add-on to its database, it allows businesspeople to query disparate data sources. IBM has signed on initial customers and is using Masala for text-based searches on its internal portal. With the forthcoming XML support in its database, IBM intends to change its current method of storing XML documents, and thereby improve its text retrieval. The investment is being fueled by the explosion of XML, which is increasingly used as a lingua franca for formatting business documents, such as purchase orders and contracts. Right now IBM and other relational database companies store XML documents, which have a tree-like structure, by breaking the documents into smaller pieces and storing them as tables. With its forthcoming XML database, IBM will store and index XML documents in a tree structure, which should greatly speed text searches. There are specialized, native XML databases already on the market, but IBM's Perna said Big Blue's product will have the industrial-strength performance and scale of its DB2 product.
Kawasaki's Martinez said IBM's technology vision is compelling because its search technology is being designed to work on different types of information and operating environments. IBM's Perna said that managing both record-related data and unstructured data, such as e-mail messages and text documents, represents the future of the data management industry. "We very much view unstructured information evolving the same way that relational databases evolved, where companies want to have content repositories that will serve multiple applications"
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