Cambridge Semantics has a new way for users to get access to its Anzo solutions: Next week at the Semantic Technology & Business Conference in San Francisco it will announce a packaging of the technology, dubbed the Anzo Express Starter Edition, that can be downloaded for free by anyone. “This lets anyone really easily start with semantics without having to invest a lot of time and without learning every fundamental detail,” says Rob Gonzalez, Director of Product Management & Marketing and a frequent contributor to this blog.

The full Anzo semantic suite is a complete enterprise data management solution with the ability to pull data in and out of relational databases for integration, to connect data within unstructured documents, and to provide analytics and enterprise security, for heavy-duty enterprise use. The Starter Edition is a trimmed-down version that’s more suitable for small groups, such as users in academia or others engaged in research,  that need a basic server and Excel integration for spreadsheet data sharing to get started.

The full suite is too large a bite for their needs,  but this version “gets you up and running quick,” he says, with getting data from spreadsheet files and mapping it into RDF the right way for integration and analysis. “Open Excel, there is an ontology editor right there to whip up a quick little ontology [from Excel spreadsheets], then you can link data from any spreadsheet and publish it as Linked Open Data, get a SPARQL endpoint, and you are done.”  While it’s not often that you hear the words “quick little ontology” used together,  Anzo can automatically generate an ontology from spreadsheet headings to even the process easier.

To help users with these starter needs, there will be a starter guide and also forums for support on its web site. It’s part of the effort the company has been making to present semantic web technologies as something that many users can leverage, such as its recent introduction of the Semantic University.

The entire pitch behind that, Gonzalez notes, “is that the semantic web is very powerful but it has to be easy to use, acceptable, have a value that people can understand. You almost don’t want people to even know they are using semantic web technology, but just to benefit from its transparency and flexibility.”

Faster adoption of the semantic web, he says, has been hampered by the fact that it hasn’t been seamless for even individuals with technical prowess to figure it out quickly. Its hope that a rising tide lifts all boats is why the company’s been spending time and resources on Semantic University and now Anzo Express Starter Edition. “Time and time gain the stumbling block has been that there is a significant educational barrier for people who, aside from academics and researchers and early adopters, could benefit and are interested in semantic technology, to get them up to speed and to the point where they could actually be productive,” Gonzalez says. “It’s a huge task.

[For the semantic web] to be successful the wave has to catch at some point, and anything we can do as a community to lower the barrier for that wave to catch, to get new people unfamiliar with standards and technologies to get started, that is the key.”