Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Why is Enterprise Search more complex than web or desktop search?

Within an enterprise, people expect to find their information, in the same and easy way, as they find their information on the web with Google. During a project I did, to improve the search of Exact Synergy Enterprise, I had one principle:

Search = Find

Why should you store information if you can't find it!



A user will start a search if he expects to find the information he is looking for. This principle applies to the 3 different types of search:
1) Web search. Like Google, Yahoo etc.
2) Desktop search. Search tools to find the content of a user's own computer.
3) Enterprise Search. Search technology to find information within an organization.

Access control to the data is a big difference between Enterprise search and the other 2 search types.  On the Web, everybody is allowed to see the data. On your desktop you are allowed to see all data, because you are the owner. Web and desktop search can index all the data without to take access control into account. Within an Enterprise, access control to data is very important. For instance payroll slips should only be accessible by the HR department and the resource itself. Other people are not allowed to see this payroll slip.

Therefore Enterprise search is a bigger challenge in comparison with web search or desktop search. A lot of tools are available to index your data in your Enterprise. For instance Microsoft Search Server 2008, Fulltext index of SQL Server, Autonomy a leader in Enterprise Search.
However these tools index the data on the same way as web search. They are not aware of the security model in your enterprise application. With these tools, you still need to implement your security model in the search application. In combination with the configuration and deployment of these tools your enterprise application can get very complex.
This is one of the main reasons why we have developed an search engine which is aware of the security model of Exact Synergy Enterprise. However Search, or better Find, is never finished and we are always looking to further improve the search.

Do you also experience the challenge of access control to your data in your search application?
If yes, how have you implemented the security model of your application in your Enterprise Search?

4 comments:

Aad 't Hart said...

Nicely written... Can I buy this?

-Aad

iC said...

Indeed good read, this subject can be a book.

Emile said...

Andre, fully agree with your conclusion, question I have: should we continue develop the technology (engine) ourselve) or start looking at for instance MS Search (http://www.microsoft.com/enterprisesearch/serverproducts/searchserverexpress/features.aspx)

André van de Graaf said...

Emile,

Thanks for your reply. This is a good question. We answered that question 2 years ago when we started the project Enterprise Search part 1. In the coming week i will write a blog about this issue with the reasons why we made this choice in the past and what we need to do in the future.

Gr. André