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Gartner Pegs Microsoft as Top Enterprise Search 'Leader'

Analyst firm Gartner put Microsoft at the top of its "leaders" category for information access technology, which includes enterprise search. The ranking is part of an Oct. 1-revised Gartner Magic Quadrant 2008 report. Gartner predicts that revenue for the global enterprise search market will reach $1.5 billion by 2012, growing from $860.3 million in 2007.

Gartner defines "information access technology" as solutions that find information for retrieval and analysis by end users. Enterprise search solutions are considered a key part of this category. Other capabilities, such as federated search, content classification and clustering, are included in Gartner's definition.

Leaders in information access technology products offer solutions with a flexible architecture, according to Gartner. Such companies also have to have the finances for the long haul. For instance, this Magic Quadrant report required vendors "to have grossed more than $12 million in revenue (for any kind of sale) in the four quarters ending 31 March 2008."

The report cited Microsoft's strengths in information access technology, particularly noting its acquisition of Norwegian company Fast Search & Transfer. Gartner called the Fast acquisition "a major transaction with far-reaching ramifications." The Fast solution can juggle multiple user profiles, for instance. It can "index from a variety of content sources." Microsoft's technology can also handle "extremely large data sets."

Microsoft's nearest competitor in the leaders' portion of the quadrant is Cambridge, U.K. and San Francisco-based Autonomy, with an information access solution that can handle "extremely large-scale installations." The company also has connector technology that can tap into "a variety of content sources."

IBM also placed in the leaders' category. The report noted IBM's strength in addressing horizontal sectors, but said the company also faced a challenge in "rationalizing its branded products."

Google was on the edge of the challengers' quadrant, but not quite a leader, according to the report. Gartner described "challengers" as vendors that "typically lack the vision to address all information access opportunities." Google can handle "extremely large-scale installations" but its solution lacks "customization capabilities." Google is also tilted toward the consumer side, although its enterprise support "is growing."

This year's report profiled 15 companies with information access applications that included "document management, Web content management and relational database management systems," along with enterprise search capability. The full Magic Quadrant Information Access Technology report can be accessed here.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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