Photo courtesy: Flickr/rvaphotodude

Last month at its MarkLogic World 2013 conference, the enterprise NoSQL database platform provider talked semantics as it related to its MarkLogic Server technology that ingests, manages and searches structured, semi-structured, and unstructured data (see our story here). The vendor late last week was scheduled to provide an early access release of MarkLogic 7, formally due by year’s end, to some dozens of initial users.

“People see a convergence of search and semantics,” Stephen Buxton, Director, Product Management, recently told The Semantic Web Blog. To that end, a lot of the vendor’s customers have deployed MarkLogic technology as well as specialized triple stores, but what they really want, he says, is an integrated approach, “a single database that does both individually and both together,” he says. “We see the future of search as semantics and the future of semantics as search, and they are very much converging.” At its recent conference, Buxton says the company demonstrated a MarkLogic app it built to function like Google’s Knowledge Graph to provide an idea of the kinds of things the enterprise might do with both search and semantics together.

Following up on the comments made by MarkLogic CEO Gary Bloom at his keynote address at the conference, Buxton explained that, “the function in MarkLogic we are working on in engineering is a way to store and manage triples in the MarkLogic database natively, right alongside structured and unstructured information – a specialized triples index so queries are very fast, and so you can do SPARQL queries in MarkLogic. So, with MarkLogic 7 we will have a world-class triple store and world-beating information store – no one else does documents, values and triples in combination the way MarkLogic 7 will.”

What Buxton says contributes to that is that world-class description is that MarkLogic brings “enterpriseness” to the job, something that he says customers have mentioned many other triple stores don’t do. That enterpriseness is around capabilities such as horizontal scalability to scale beyond physical memory, along with security, high availability, disaster recovery, backup, and replication that have long been built-in to the technology’s infrastructure. Companies that run their business on MarkLogic, he said, can’t afford to lose either data or time. Narrowly looked at, he says, MarkLogic is adding to its product capabilities that triple stores already have, but looked at more broadly, he says, triple stores don’t have the other functionality enterprises need that MarkLogic delivers. “The important thing is the combination. The sum is greater than its parts,” he says.

The company has been looking at semantics for some time now, he said, noting as an example a project it worked on with Professor Jim Hendler, head of the Department of Computer Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and presented at SemTech in 2011.  It introduced the capabilities in the application layer as an initial test for taking things further, and to see how users wold respond. After seeing a positive response and registering the ability to scale at least as well as other triples stores on the market, consideration was given to partnering with some major triple stores for a full-scale product effort. “But,” says Buxton, “it really does work better in our infrastructure. It’s actually deep, deep in our infrastructure now, so things work together very well.”

It remains to be seen how things will play out for customers who’ve already been using triple stores in combination with MarkLogic Server – whether they’ll decide to replace what they have and how they’d migrate data and processes into MarkLogic. “This is a huge effort,” says Buxton, noting that this is the first of several releases where the vendor will be building out its semantic capabilities.