Vendors tackle information access

Posted on March 01, 2007

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By Kevin Komiega

The advent of new federal electronic discovery (e-discovery) regulations, coupled with the recent list of vendors splicing enterprise search with indexing technologies, is resulting in a wave of new data-classification tools designed to clean up the messy business of information access.

Enterprise search software vendor FAST Search & Transfer recently unveiled a new platform in an effort to improve the quality, speed, and accessibility of data warehouses. The launch of the FAST Adaptive Information Warehouse (AIW) marks the first time the company, which is historically known as a search and data-classification software developer, is applying its technology to the business intelligence (BI) market.

At the core of the AIW platform is a pair of tools that integrate, monitor, move, and cleanse data in a number of different ways. The first, FAST Radar, provides visibility into data through customizable dashboards and the second, FAST Data Cleansing Solution, eliminates confusing or incomplete query results.

The combination of Radar and Data Cleansing Solution offers end users real-time access to all information, both structured and unstructured, regardless of its source or location through a search and navigation interface. The key to the so-called data cleansing process is the use of linguistics to improve data quality, enabling organizations to match, merge, and cleanse data automatically. FAST Radar is a Web-based business intelligence portal and tool that brings actionable information and statistical analysis to decision-makers organization-wide.

“We have been focused on information access through enterprise search inside the firewall since 2003. The new Adaptive Information Warehouse is a business intelligence solution built on search technology,” says Davor Sutija, a vice president at FAST Search & Transfer. “Search can empower a new form of BI by focusing on data quality. We are using the technology inherent to search to match, merge, and cleanse data.”

Sutija claims that AIW beats data warehouses at their own game by combining structured and unstructured data, real-time and historical data, all through one scalable repository on commodity servers.

The company also touts a faster return-on-investment for AIW versus traditional BI and warehousing approaches because AIW allows for expanded access to information by providing linguistic data cleansing, allowing dynamic object associations and data profiling and speedy ad-hoc query performance. The bottom line, according to Sutija, is that AIW lets more people access and use information to make faster, more-efficient business decisions without spending months deciphering complex data models and building integrated schemas.

Recent amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) that went into effect on December 1, 2006 require that organizations be prepared to locate and produce information in electronic format during litigation. File types that fall under the regulation include e-mails, files, and database data. Another vendor, Index Engines, is betting these additional rules will change how organizations classify, index, and access information going forward.

Index Engines launched a new platform of its own last month. The Enterprise Discovery Platform automates information access and retrieval by streamlining the online discovery process and retrieving content directly from backup/archive tapes without restoring data back to disk.

Jim McGann, the company’s vice president of marketing, claims that this approach dramatically reduces the time and expense involved in the electronic discovery process and eliminates the barriers to online/offline enterprise-wide e-discovery.

The Enterprise Discovery Platform uses an appliance-based approach to collecting and preparing data faster and more accurately than some competing products, according to company officials. The appliance indexes data at wire speed through connections on a SAN or LAN. The latest release of the platform features the added benefit of being able to index offline content stored on tape and archival media and recover the data without the need to restore it to disk.

The Index Engines’ Enterprise Discovery Platform is priced from $50,000 for a package that scales to support four million files.

Data-classification vendor Scentric is also optimistic that information access is destined to change. Scentric has unveiled a trio of software suites for data privacy, e-discovery, and compliance. Scentric’s Destiny Enterprise Suites for Data Privacy, e-Discovery, and Compliance each combine software and services pre-configured to address specific information management issues in large enterprises.

The Destiny Enterprise Suite for Data Privacy includes a classification engine, support for all major file types, and rule sets aimed at addressing common data privacy risks, including automatically identifying social security and credit card numbers in unprotected files. The Destiny policy engine can be configured to automatically delete or protect the identified files.

The Destiny Enterprise Suite for e-Discovery provides enterprise-wide classification for e-mail and all major file types, enabling organizations to identify, preserve, and package potential evidence using automated policies.

The Destiny Enterprise Suite for Compliance includes all of the features of the Data Privacy Suite and the e-Discovery Suite and adds the capability to move and manage data to content-addressed storage (CAS) systems, including CAS platforms from Archivas, EMC, Hitachi Data Systems (which recently acquired Archivas), Network Appliance, and Permabit.

The Destiny Enterprise suites are available immediately with prices starting at $80,000 for 25TB of managed data, including software, installation, training, and one year of maintenance. Scentric also offers larger licenses ranging up to 150TB.


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