AltaVista illuminates enterprise search

Next week AltaVista Software plans to introduce an updated version of its Enterprise Search product, bolstering the offering with improved categorization and document-level security.

AltaVista Enterprise Search 2.0 attempts to boost workplace productivity by unlocking information buried within complex applications, according to Phil Rugani, executive vice-president of the AltaVista Software division, in Palo Alto, Calif.

“Individual workers can’t access information in the enterprise because of the complexity with the applications themselves. Workers have to know how to use each application to get information from it,” he said. “We are circumventing the application to go after the data to give workers access to information they need.”

To that end, Version 2.0 features an Auto-Categorizer add-on module that improves upon rules-based categorization available in the previous version. Auto-Categorization is designed to handle large data sets by automatically arranging documents by category and tagging the content for simple navigation.

Advanced categorization addresses challenges with search that can be easily neglected inside the enterprise, said Laura Ramos, research director at Giga Information Group Inc., in Santa Clara, Calif. Corporations need to carefully plan search initiatives to define context, taxonomy, and structure, she said.

“People bought search hoping it would solve business problems that probably weren’t that well defined. The idea was to buy a search engine, point it at what you wanted it to index, and it indexed it for you,” she said.

“In reality, there is a lot more information architecting that needs to go on to make search or any system that deals with unstructured information effective. So, because a lot of the planning wasn’t put into place, companies ended up with piecemeal search systems that didn’t return results,” Ramos said.

Enterprise Search 2.0 also features enhancements to the security framework aimed at bringing security to the document level. The software lets administrators pre-determine user access privileges at both the index and document levels, which helps enforce document viewing restrictions, according to AltaVista Software officials.

According to Ramos, the dynamic document-level security enhancement helps address the problem of enforcing security across multiple systems and applications.

“They are not creating a second security layer, but honoring the existing security that is already on the repository where the content is stored,” Ramos said.

Other enhancements to the product include improved integration with existing IT infrastructures and linguistic processing tools designed to better refine search requests.

The Enterprise Search launch follows AltaVista’s announcement earlier this month of a desktop search offering. The company’s Desktop Search is a productivity application designed to provide broad search and retrieval capabilities at the individual desktop and laptop level.

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