Entries from October 2011 ↓

Enterprise search Europe – just don’t call it enterprise search

I attended the inaugural Enterprise Search Europe in London October 24-25 and was impressed with a few things. Firstly the attendance was stronger than I thought, perhaps around 100, although that includes sponsors’ attendees. There were half a dozen main sponsors and two vendors I spoke to said they wanted to sponsor it but were too late – so there is demand there for such an event. Chairman Martin White of Intranet Focus did an excellent job of keeping things moving along and stepped in to fill a gap in the program caused by last-minute absentees. He’s summed up the whole conference himself here.

I was on two panels, one more formal than the other. I was responding to the thoughts of Funnelback’s chief scientist David Hawking, who talked of current research in the enterprise search area and contrasted it with the wealth of research done in Web search. I pointed out that if some organizations such as TREC made its output actually usable by vendors (who aren’t permitted to say where they come in TREC rankings) then it would get much more support.

In the evening in the Hand & Flower pub across the road from the hotel for the latest Enterprise Search Meetup London I was one of two permanent panelists (Laura Wilber of Exalead being the other), with a goldfish bowl set-up where anyone wanting to ask a question had to joint the panel’s spare seats to do it from there. It made for some pretty lively discussions about what the next big things might be impacting enterprise search (big data being one of them, of course), helped by the  beer & wine paid for by Exalead.

The evening in the pub might have been livelier than the panel at the conference itself, but the themes were similar, namely that enterprise search as a use case and value proposition is dead; people don’t buy enterprise search engines to ‘find stuff’ within their organization anymore. There has to be a more tangible use case, such as electronic discovery, or fraud detection and the like. I’ve written about this recently.

Two other analysts were at the conference – Alan Pelz-Sharpe of RealStoryGroup and Mike Davis of Ovum. Alan has penned his forthright thoughts here and Mike and I talked enough to know that the three of us – and plenty of others at the event that weren’t analysts but actual users – were thinking similar thoughts. So despite the fact that the conference is called Enterprise Search Europe and most people seem to think that enterprise search as a concept is redundant, I would recommend the event for next year, by when I suspect it may be called something else.

What is the point of Hadoop?

Among the many calls we have fielded from users, investors and vendors about Apache Hadoop, the most common underlying question we hear could be paraphrased ‘what is the point of Hadoop?’.

It is a more fundamental question than ‘what analytic workloads is Hadoop used for’ and really gets to the heart of uncovering why businesses are deploying or considering deploying Apache Hadoop. Our research suggests there are three core roles:

– Big data storage: Hadoop as a system for storing large, unstructured, data sets
– Big data integration: Hadoop as a data ingestion/ETL layer
– Big data analytics: Hadoop as a platform new new exploratory analytic applications

While much of the attention for Apache Hadoop use-cases focuses on the innovative new analytic applications it has enabled in this latter role thanks to its high-profile adoption at Web properties, for more traditional enterprises and later adopters the first two, more mundane, roles are more likely the trigger for initial adoption. Indeed there are some good examples of these three roles representing an adoption continuum.

We also see the multiple roles playing out at a vendor level, with regards to strategies for Hadoop-related products. Oracle’s Big Data Appliance (451 coverage), for example, is focused very specifically on Apache Hadoop as a pre-processing layer for data to be analyzed in Oracle Database.

While Oracle focuses on Hadoop’s ETL role, it is no surprise that the other major incumbent vendors showing interest in Hadoop can be grouped into three main areas:

– Storage vendors
– Existing database/integration vendors
– Business intelligence/analytics vendors

The impact of these roles on vendor and user adoption plans will be reflected in my presentation at Hadoop World in November, the Blind Men and The Elephant.

You can help shape this presentation, and our ongoing research into Hadoop adoption drivers and trends, by taking our survey into end user attitudes towards the potential benefits of ‘big data’ and new and emerging data management technologies.

Q4 speaking engagements

As a follow-up to Matt’s post last week showing where he’ll be speaking during Q4, here’s some more updates of other in the information management team speaking at various events this quarter.

First up I’m chairing and speaking at IQPC’s Enterprise Information Management Exchange in London on October 10-11. I’m speaking to a mainly C-level end user audience about information risk management, moderating a panel on  how to make the most of your information assets and brushing off my MC-ing skills to keep the whole show moving along.

Next up I’ll be back in NYC at Text Analytics World giving a slightly shorter version of a similar presentation on October 19 (which I’ll be refining and also presenting at Predictive Analytics World in London on November 30).

On October 24 I’m on the opening panel of Enterprise Search Europe, discussing the issues brought up by the keynote presentation by Funnelback’s David Hawking, among other things

On October 27 David Horrigan will be attending Guidance Software’s Federal Summit in Washington, DC where he’ll be moderating a panel called e-Discovery in the cloud. This is an invite-only one being handled by Guidance, so I don’t have a link unfortunately.

Into November and I’ll be attending the e-Discovery and e-Investigations Forum in London on November 10. There I’ll be discussing the choice available to end users in e-Discovery in a session called: A buyers guide to navigating the info management and e-discovery technology marketplace.’

The following week I’ll be in Munich at IQPC’s Information Retention & e-Discovery Exchange where I’m sitting on a couple of panels – one on social media in e-Discovery and another on technology in this area.

Finally this quarter  Kathleen Reidy will be attending Gilbane’s annual gathering of enterprise content management mavens where she’s moderating a panel entitled ‘Get Ready for Big Data.’

We hope to see some of you at one or more of these events in Q4.

The significance of Oracle NoSQL

We have previously speculated at The 451 Group about Oracle’s potential to respond to the growing adoption of NoSQL databases, noting that the company had a number of options at its disposal, including Berkeley DB and projects like HandlerSocket.

While some may wonder about the potential impact of Oracle NoSQL (based indeed on Berkeley DB) on the existing NoSQL vendors, I believe the launch says something very significant about NoSQL itself: specifically that its adoption is driven by more than the nature of the query language.

To get a sense of why Oracle NoSQL is significant, think about the way Oracle has traditionally responded to alternative approaches that threaten the relational model and its dominance thereof. Oracle’s approach has traditionally been to subsume the alternative approach, at least in part, into Oracle Database, nullifying the competitive threat.

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison explained the approach himself on a recent call with investors:

“We think that data should be integrated with a single database technology. That’s always been our strategy for Oracle. And it started as a relational database then we added objects, then we added text and then we’ve added a variety of other things like video and audio to the Oracle Database. We think that should be unified and that’s how we’re approaching the problem.”

As we recently covered (451 clients only), Oracle is in the process of replicating this strategy with MySQL, adding support for the ability to directly access MySQL’s InnoDB and MySQL’s Cluster’s NDB storage engines using the memcached API.

This ability to perform non-SQL querying of the database is part of the agility benefit of NoSQL, and if the term NoSQL were to be taken literally would perhaps be enough to discourage would-be NoSQL adopters from turning away from MySQL.

As our NoSQL, NewSQL and Beyond report highlighted, however, agility is just one of six key trends we see driving adoption of NoSQL databases. Scalability, performance, relaxed consistency, intricacy and necessity will not be solved by the ability to query MySQL or MySQL Cluster using the memcached API.

The launch of Oracle NoSQL is therefore a clear indication that there are trends at work here that cannot be solved by adding non-SQL querying to existing relational databases.

There is another significant factor here, which is the fact that Oracle has chose to name the product NoSQL. In one simple naming move the company has effectively disarmed the NoSQL ‘movement’.

We have previously noted that existing NoSQL vendors were turning away from the term in favor of emphasizing their individual strengths. How many of them are going to want to self-identify with an Oracle product? I’m not convinced any of them believe the brand is worth fighting for.