Seeking to speed up enterprise search

There’s no overstating the importance of searches to your public Web or internal servers. I was able to get a good sense of Verity Inc.’s enterprise search approach with a three-month test of Verity Ultraseek, a lighter version of the technology found in the firm’s high-end K2 Enterprise. My conclusion: It’s a very good choice for Internet, extranet and intranet searches.

Version 5.3.1 improves search results and their display with new options, including Page Expert, which filters out irrelevant page content. The updated Ultraseek is a good fit for large deployments because IT can delegate to business managers admin tasks such as revising search forms to match the requirements of different sites.

After you get Ultraseek running — a trivial process — you can almost forget about touching the software. The latest version now supports Suse Linux and Red Hat Enterprise Linux; my test platforms employed both Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3 and Windows Server 2003.

Customization is performed via a Web-based UI divided into functional sections. Although Ultraseek provides a lot of options for you to customize, creating a basic search isn’t difficult. I was pleasantly surprised with the usability and depth of Layout Manager, a great GUI for designing the search interface.

Unfortunately, my initial results were not as good as those I got from search appliances. For example, on identical site crawls, Ultraseek returned 20 per cent false hits, compared with none for both the Google and Thunderstone appliances. The good news is that I matched those results after configuring two new Ultraseek features, Page Expert and Secure Result Filtering.

The Page Expert function helped me exclude non-content text (such as navigation and menus), which seemed to confuse Ultraseek’s search algorithms. Next, I used Secure Result Filtering, which checks each hit against the current user’s permissions and then presents only allowable results.

As do most search software solutions, Ultraseek provides editorial control. For example, editors can allow keywords to be associated with specific URLs that appear above the normal search results.

One interesting addition in Ultraseek 5.3.1 is Weblog Update. From a preference setting in Six Apart Ltd.’s Movable Type 3.12, I easily notified my Ultraseek server that blog sites had been updated and triggered it to immediately crawl the changes.

Ultraseek’s easy implementation and customization, along with its relevance tuning, mean you can quickly implement a Web search solution.

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