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Photo Courtesy Flickr/katieb50

Interested in discovering what’s happened to some of the enterprise search vendors that have piqued your interest in the past? You may want to head here, where enterprise search industry expert and author of the Enterprise Search Report Stephen E. Arnold of ArnoldIT is posting a series of profiles of firms that have tried and failed – or in some cases, still are trying to – make a business in enterprise search.

It’s not easy, Arnold writes: “Search is a very difficult problem to solve and turn into a sustainable business.”

Arnold began posting output of the effort this fall, compiling these versions from profiles his team has done for books, articles, monographs and other sources. This month he’s added iPhrase technologies (purchased by IBM and helping power its OmniFind search and content management system), and expectations are that new profiles come onboard every couple of weeks or so.

Among the reports currently online are those for:

  • Convera, which dealt with both structured and unstructured content, video in the mix, and in its time acquired Semantix and its computational linguistics technology;
  • Delphes and its linguistics-based content processing system whose integrated information system was designed to determine the contextual purpose of words;
  • Entopia, featuring not just semantic indexing and search capabilities but what is described as a knowledge management and semantic system that emulated SAP’s massive infrastructure commitment; and
  • Fulcrum, whose technology, which included the Ful/Text Server full text indexing and retrieval engine, now is incorporated into OpenText.

Others that have departed as companies in their own right include some vendors previously discussed in our own pages, such as SchemaLogic, which with its metadata content management system for controlled vocabularies was acquired a couple of years back by SmartLogic and Siderean, whose semantic search system Arnold notes was once paired with SchemaLogic in a deal by the vendors to help companies improve the findability of information across the enterprise.

Not to be forgotten is Verity, which Arnold dubs one of the first established search brands and which was bought in the mid-2000s by semantic search company Autonomy — which was bought by HP.  That’s when things got really interesting, with the drama that followed there over accounting improprieties and a multi-billion dollar write-off by HP as a result. That drama continues with a multibillion dollar civil lawsuit from HP shareholders and investigations by US and UK financial authorities.

Still alive among those covered in these initial posts is Dieselpoint, a pure Java search and retrieval system, although Arnold points out it’s maintaining a low profile. Arnold also notes that he’s providing the drafts as is, not updated, not unfrozen and for reference use only. They’re worth exploring for a sense of search’s past – and a past that might not be particularly far removed from its present, regardless of what some of the new owners of some of these technologies might convey.

In a release about the enterprise search vendor profile series, Arnold is quoted as say that he wants to make these profiles available “because many of today’s vendors are marketing their technology as new and revolutionary. The reality is that in many cases, the vendors are recycling search methods that have been in use for decades. But these profiles—particularly the descriptions of such innovators as Fulcrum and iPhrase—make it clear that search innovation is moving at a very slow pace compared to other technical fields.”

We look forward to the next batch.