IBM, Yahoo! battle Microsoft, Google

IBM and Yahoo! have revealed a new enterprise and web search tool that could make current market leaders Google and Microsoft feel a little less settled in their thrones.

IBM, Yahoo! battle Microsoft, Google

Experts believe that the new offering could make a serious impact on users’ purchasing decisions and the market.

IBM OmniFind Yahoo! Edition (OYE) is a free download designed to enable divisions or entire organisations get access to the information, both internally and from the net, when they need it, using a tool that doesn’t come with the caveat of large financial or technical demands.

The new product caters for a broad set of business search demands, with support for up to 500,000 documents per server, more than 200 file types and documents in more than 30 languages.

‘Organisations of all sizes are faced with the problem of too much information residing in different locations and in different formats, making it nearly impossible to quickly extract meaning,’ said Ambuj Goyal, general manager of IBM’s information management division.

‘IBM and Yahoo! are bringing clients closer to the reality of being able to use all of their information and analyse it to resolve customer issues, spot trends, recognise business opportunities and become more flexible.’

The arrival of OmniFind will prove tempting for smaller organisations and departments in larger companies due to its cost and ease of use, meaning both Google and Microsoft face some tough challenges, according to Mike Davis, a senior analyst at Ovum.

‘We believe that this could be highly disruptive in the enterprise search space,’ he said.

‘OYE is squarely aimed at the market targeted by Google with its Search Appliance (GSA) and Mini and Microsoft with its Office 2007 SharePoint Server for Search (MOSS)

‘…This product is significant on two fronts. The first is that it shows a greater willingness by IBM to write simple-to-install software. Secondly, the team that developed OYE recognised that a familiar user experience is a strong reason for selection of a software product. A key selling point for the GSA is the use of the same search interface as used on the web site. By partnering with Yahoo!, IBM has taken exactly the same approach providing a tried, tested and refined interface.’

The rise of competition in this space signals good news for businesses all round as it offers them more choice at the entry level, without the expense of bells and whistles they don’t want or need.

In addition, IBM is providing an upgrade path, in the form of beefier offerings, for those who want more out of their enterprise and internet search tools.

‘Of course there is no such thing as free lunch,’ added Davis. ‘This is just a free starter. IBM will offer 24×7 support at $1,999 per server per year. But in another challenge to Google, the point of contact is by telephone to a real person in a support centre, rather than by email.

‘OYE is an enterprise and internet search tool, which because of its price point and interface has, I believe, the potential to be as disruptive in the enterprise search market as the advent of Google was in Internet search.’

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