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Search technology: a spectrum of options

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Finding a good fit

Cybergroup is a custom software development company that serves government and private markets. When its clients need a search capability, whether standalone or embedded in an application, the company uses technology from dtSearch, a veteran in the search industry whose first desktop search product was introduced in 1991. Current products can also search network, intranet and Internet data sources.

"Our clients in the HR and legal fields often need a search function that will span structured and unstructured repositories," says Greg Bean, president of Cybergroup. "dtSearch is a good fit for this situation."

Another context in which Cybergroup uses dtSearch is for e-commerce websites, when a user needs to access information about a product during the transaction. "A customer gets pricing and product data such as item numbers from the website, but also may want to look at technical documentation or reviews, which is unstructured," Bean explains. "dtSearch readily integrates these into a search interface."

dtSearch offers capabilities such as fuzzy search, stemming, Boolean and proximity searches. "The software can support natural language search and can tune results for relevancy," Bean adds. "Also the firm has been stable for many years, which has provided us with continuity throughout our relationship with them, and their experts are accessible when we need support."

Advanced international language analytics and other capabilities can be built on top of the software. "As a keyword search engine, dtSearch is agnostic about language, and can even search languages such as Arabic and Chinese, because it is looking for characters rather than meaning," says Elizabeth Thede, director of sales at dtSearch. "We do not compete with our VARs by doing any development work, but instead, provide a full set of tools such as APIs for our partners."

To tune relevancy, dtSearch can, for example, rank a certain word higher if it appears in a particular field and lower it in another one. It can also do complex searching such as for Social Security numbers that form a pattern or numbers in a less predictable format such as medical codes.

On a more personal level

Many knowledge workers, including attorneys, software developers and consultants, work in small offices that do not have enterprise-level search software. Yet their work requires rapid access to information. One of the relatively few desktop search engines is the newly released Desktop Search 8, Virtual Edition, from X1. At SharePoint Pros, managing partner and senior SharePoint architect Jim Ehrenberg was on the lookout for search software because of the limitations in the Windows search tool. "I came across X1 and it blew me away," says Ehrenberg. "My main use for X1 is to find critical e-mails and documents and to search our SharePoint text servers and Office 365 client sites. It saves an incredible amount of time."

After using it successfully in-house for several months, SharePoint Pros began installing X1 for customers. "One patent law firm we work with uses SharePoint sites for its many clients," Ehrenberg says. "The firm needed to search an enormous set of technical documents that were on a file server, in essence creating a research library. Since X1 works with SharePoint, we advised them to move the documents into SharePoint and use X1 for searching, and it solved the problem completely." SharePoint Pros used Metalogix Content Matrix to tag the data on the fly as it was migrated, which dramatically improved the accuracy of filtering and search results.

At Spark Productivity, founder Jan Wencel advises executive clients and corporations on how to operate more efficiently. Wencel had used one search tool previously that weighed heavily on her computer, slowing performance, so she looked for an alternative. She discovered X1 and uses it herself as well as recommending that her clients try it. "They see how quickly I can find things and get very interested," Wencel says. "I like the layout of the results screen, and the software is light on my computer."

Most information that users need on a day-to-day basis is on their local drives, according to John Patzakis, president of X1. "We provide a single pane of glass for local files, e-mail attachments and network sources," he says. X1 has half a million users ranging from CEOs to partners in law firms, business consultants and university professors. Patzakis adds, "What we hear from them is that they could not live without it. X1 improves their productivity and is a part of their daily business workflow."

A unique aspect of X1 is that it can operate in a virtual environment by fully integrating within the elastic and stratified virtual architecture, including by enabling the decoupling of the search index from the user interface, which runs on the virtual desktop. "This is a big differentiator," Patzakis says. "Most traditional search solutions do not operate well in a virtual environment. Our software was designed for both the traditional desktop and virtual environments. It can also be installed remotely by a single click.

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