Inktomi keys up enterprise search with XML

Search vendor Inktomi Corp. is looking to drive its search technology into the heart of enterprise applications, tapping XML to extract data from structured and semi-structured data buried in corporate systems.

The company this week rolled out the Inktomi Search Toolkit, designed to be embedded into applications such as content management, CRM (customer relationship management), ERP (enterprise resource planning), portals, and commerce systems.

Spreading its wings beyond intranet search, Inktomi is leveraging XML in combination with the emerging W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) standard XQuery to dig into the structured and semi-structured content that proliferates in applications.

The problem of extracting information from corporate applications is huge, according to Bill Lange, senior analyst at Delphi Consulting Group Inc.

"Most corporate repositories have so much information, if you start looking for stuff you get overwhelmed easily," Lange said.

Existing application search tools fall short because they attempt to use unstructured information retrieval designed for intranets or relational database search, which does not deal well with textual content, said Rahul Lahiri, director of product management at Inktomi.

Tapping XQuery -- a query language for XML -- in combination with XML, Inktomi's Search Toolkit merges traditional keyword search with sophisticated tools for a powerful structured queries typically found in relational databases.

"The product we built is very XML-focused. XML is becoming the defacto standard for data presentation in the enterprise," he said. "XML allows you to evolve the data structure and it adds a tremendous amount of flexibility."

Furthermore, XML support paves the road for forthcoming Web services, which promise to integrate currently independent search silos in various applications and content repositories.

Web services will allow a centralized enterprise search capability, Lahiri said. Combining XML and Web services protocols, "the search can span across all of the different repositories and you can really get a comprehensive view of all the content within the enterprise," he said.

Inktomi is aiming to add Web services support to its XML-based search technology by the end of the year, Lahiri said.

"Web services coupled with XML is what really brings power to this whole app integration infrastructure," Lahiri said.

Inktomi also recently teamed with Stratify to marry search with text categorization. The deal aims to boost search precision by allowing users to drill down into documents within specific categories.

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