Blogger: Larry Cannell
A few months ago I asked readers of this blog: “Is Enterprise Search Ripe for Open Source Disruption?” This marked the start of my interest in the intersection of these two intriguing topics: open source and search.
Since then Burton Group published a report I authored entitled “Open Source Search: Bringing Enterprise Search Out into the Open.” Here is an excerpt from the opening paragraphs:
‘It has been over ten years since “open source” was first used to describe what was previously called “free software.” Early detractors of open source software pointed to potential risks and claimed only commercial vendors could produce high quality software. However, leading open source development communities quietly moved forward with a sometimes slow, but disciplined, progression of releases to the point at which the quality and robustness of these offerings is no longer easily questioned or challenged.
‘While popular open source projects like the Linux operating system, the Apache Web Server, and the MySQL database were capturing headlines, open source projects that tackle the problem of searching large quantities of content (e.g., Apache Lucene, which provides a high-quality Java search library) have become the basis for search capabilities provided by thousands of Internet sites and many software products. Like popular open source products that have come before, open source search is finding its way into enterprise computing environments by first earning its stripes through successful implementations on the Internet—an ultra-competitive environment where a search-based user experience can be the difference between success and failure.’
I also had the pleasure of moderating a lively panel discussion (that was also titled “Is Enterprise Search Ripe for Open Source Disruption?”) at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference two weeks ago. Participating on the panel were:
- Jerome Pesenti, Chief Scientist and Co-Founder, Vivisimo
- Marc Krellenstein, Chief Technology Officer, Lucid Imagination
- Sid Probstein, Chief Technology Officer, Attivio
- Stephen “The Search Guy” Green, Senior Staff Engineer, Sun Microsystems Laboratories
Jerome Pesenti put up a good fight and provided the strongest opposition to the idea that open source was ready for enterprise use. Marc Krellenstein, as expected, was the most vocal proponent for open source. In addition, Sid Probstein and Stephen Green contributed their unique perspectives. Sid’s company, Attivio, uses Lucene in their product. Stephen Green is the author of an open source search engine called Minion. Although, somewhat contentious (and loud) at times, the conversation highlighted many of the opportunities and concerns with using open source for enterprise search.
For those of you attending the Burton Group Catalyst Conference later this month, be sure to sit in on the session “Open Source Search: Good Stuff Cheap (With a Few Caveats)” where I will be providing an overview of the topic and discussing the open source products Lucene, Solr, Nutch, Xapian, Flax, OpenPipeline, and SMILA.