TECH ED - SAP launches enterprise search application

SAP announced an enterprise search application that will become commercially available in 2007.

SAP unwrapped its Enterprise Search application to help customers conduct specific secure queries of structured and unstructured data held in both SAP and non-SAP software.

The vendor announced the search application Tuesday at its TechEd developer conference in Las Vegas during a flurry of announcements promoting innovation and simplicity.

"We can do deep searches into enterprise data," Peter Graf, executive vice president of solution marketing for SAP, said during a conference call to discuss the news. "We can leverage all the knowledge we have about a user from [SAP] applications in terms of their preferences, roles and authorization for what information they can see." For instance, an individual within a company could carry out queries around the organization's corporate structure as to who reports to whom or determine which of their peers are experts in technologies like Java, he added.

The aim is to make enterprise search tied to business context accessible to nontechnical users for a "Google-like" searching capability, according to Graf. "You don't need a very long learning experience to use Enterprise Search," he said.

Formerly known as Project Argo, the application runs on SAP's NetWeaver 2004s integration platform. The underlying indexing engine is SAP's existing Trex search technology combined with newly developed search capabilities.

SAP developers can download a free trial version of Enterprise Search now from the company's SAP Developer Network (SDN) Web site. The company plans to make the application commercially available in 2007, at which point SAP will release pricing details.

Developers will be able to adjust Enterprise Search so they can use the application to search non-SAP applications, Graf said. They will also be able to embed search capabilities in other applications and create new search services. Enterprise Search has open interfaces so it can hook into third-party information sources and search engines.

SAP plans for Enterprise Search to support a number of different user interfaces. The vendor will make the application available as a browser-based user interface for simple Web search and as a desktop widget embedded in its mySAP ERP 2005 enterprise resource planning application. SAP also intends to offer Enterprise Search as an enhancement to its Business Intelligence Accelerator (BIA) product.

Graf stressed that Enterprise Search and BIA are complementary technologies, both using in-memory capabilities and being highly scalable. SAP released its BIA analytical engine in May after working closely with Intel, IBM and Hewlett-Packard. The software enables users to quickly analyze and query vast amounts of business data on the fly without having to pre-aggregate and store the information in a database before querying it. SAP pre-installs BIA on blade servers from HP and IBM.

Shai Agassi, president of SAP's product and technology group, described BIA as a "mini-grid and a mini-Google."

SAP's main applications rival Oracle Corp. debuted a stand-alone enterprise search product, Oracle Search Enterprise 10g, in March. Other applications players are also looking more seriously at the enterprise search market, including Microsoft with its Index Server software.

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