IBM, Yahoo upgrade free enterprise search tool

New features added to IBM's OmniFind Yahoo! Edition

An upgraded version of the free enterprise search application IBM developed with Yahoo is being released Monday, and includes support for foreign languages, the ability to search metadata, and tools allowing customers to more easily customize the user interface.

Released just four months after the launch of IBM's OmniFind Yahoo! Edition, this second version responds to demand for the product from outside the United States. More than half of the 16,000 organizations that have downloaded the free search tool are from outside the country, says Aaron Brown, director of the content discovery and search program at IBM.

The tool could always search content in other languages, but now the home page, and user and administrative interfaces are available in Portuguese, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Dutch, Hungarian, Polish and Swedish.

"We've seen there is a lot of worldwide demand," Brown says. "The translation is one of the big themes of the new release. The other is really addressing the customer feedback we've seen."

Toward that end, the IBM/Yahoo! tool now allows enterprises to search metadata, or information about documents, such as the author name. The version being released Monday also makes it easier for companies to customize the user interface so it matches the look and feel of the rest of an intranet. IBM is also letting companies embed the search tool in other applications without writing code.

Japan holds many customers of enterprise search technology, so support for Japanese and other Asian languages is important, says Whit Andrews, a Gartner analyst. Overall, he says, the new release "is not a market-changing upgrade. But certainly, I think one of the things IBM is probably trying to accomplish is they're trying to look like they care. And they do. IBM absolutely cares about this market."

The OmniFind Yahoo! Edition was clearly a response to the Google Search Appliance and Microsoft Office SharePoint, and is "a credible product at the inexpensive end of the market," Andrews says.

The Web search capabilities in OmniFind are provided by Yahoo, while the enterprise search is a combination of IBM technology and open source software from Lucene.

IBM also makes OmniFind Enterprise Edition , a paid model with extra functionality. A handful of customers who downloaded the free version have switched to the fee-based edition, and IBM is hoping more customers will go that route.

Yahoo today is not involved with the OmniFind Enterprise Edition, but probably will be eventually, Brown says. "The integration of Web and enterprise content is a key thing for organizations to get the most value out of their organization," he says.

IBM boasts that the free Yahoo! edition can be deployed in minutes.

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