Archive for October, 2011

The Fall and rise of search in a world of Big Data – part 2

The theme of Big Data continued at the next conference I attended, the first Enterprise Search Europe held in London. There was a good mix of presentations ranging from the academic to the practical, my favourite probably being Martin Belam and colleague’s talk about using Solr to dynamically generate content for the new Guardian Books site. I was lucky enough to be able to talk about the real business benefits of open source search along with one of our customers, Stephen Wicks, CTO of Gorkana Group, which drew some interesting questions. We also ran a combined Meetup on the Monday evening, combining Enterprise Search Cambridge with Enterprise Search London.

There did seem to be a rather negative spin on search from many presenters – saying that search technology is misunderstood, more costly than expected, rarely works and hasn’t seen much recent innovation. Some of this is true – but I see this as an opportunity rather than a problem. There is more focus on the world of search now than before due to some high-profile acquisitions; people are questioning the value and capability of search technology. Those of us working at the cutting edge, delivering real working solutions, should perhaps take this opportunity to say that yes, it can be done, at a sensible cost, and it can deliver real business benefit. Perhaps as we move further into the world of Big Data we’ll realise the true value of effective search.

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October 31st, 2011

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The Fall and rise of search in a world of Big Data – part 1

It’s been an interesting and busy few weeks this autumn – starting with Lucene Eurocon in Barcelona. ‘Big Data’ was a main theme, with some great presentations including the keynote from Grant Ingersoll and the talk from Eric Baldeschwieler of Hortonworks, showing how Lucene fits with other Apache projects such as Hadoop, Mahout and HBase. I also enjoyed the presentations from Andrzej Bialecki on a portable index format for Lucene, Jan Høydahl of Cominvent AS on the Solr Update Chain and James Alexander of the Open University on building a Solr-powered search of their video archives. Luckily this year the presentations were videoed – so I can catch up on the presentations I missed – you’ll also be able to see me talk about our recent work with Reed Specialist Recruitment.

Of course, one of the major reasons for attending an event like this is the networking and talks outside the main event, and it was great to catch up with others in the field – one meeting between a number of us with an interest in pipelining and data conditioning led to the creation of an informal group to discuss how we might better share ideas, code and best practises.

While we were at the conference the announcement that search vendor Endeca had been bought by Oracle - and yes, this is also probably about Big Data. These are fascinating times – is search becoming the enabling technology for a revolution in how we deal with digital information?

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October 28th, 2011

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Just the job for a recruitment client

We’re pleased to announce our work with Reed Specialist Recruitment, one of the UK’s largest recruitment companies, where we helped them implement an Apache Solr powered application to allow their 3000+ staff to search for and match candidates to jobs. We built an innovative indexing framework, a configuration tool and performance monitoring system for Reed and the system launched on time and under budget, a great testament to the flexibility and power of this open source software. The new system responds in under a second – a massive improvement on the previous response time of several minutes. You can read the press release here.

If you’d like to hear more I’ll be giving a presentation on the project at Lucene Eurocon in Barcelona tomorrow – Wednesday 19th October at 1.30 p.m. – slides and a video will be online after the event.

If you can’t make it to Barcelona I’ll also be talking in London, on the business benefits of open source search, at around 10am on Tuesday 25th October with our client Stephen Wicks, CTO of Gorkana Group as part of Enterprise Search Europe – there are still tickets available and you can even get a 20% discount if you join the Cambridge or London Enterprise Search Meetups, who are hosting a joint event on the Monday evening of the conference.

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Posted in News, events

October 18th, 2011

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Another powerful API based on Solr launches, searching more patents than Google

Our customer Cambridge Intellectual Property announced yesterday their new API for a collection of 55 million patents – 48 million more than Google Patents. It’s great to see a Cambridge company innovating in this space, especially as the service is powered by Apache Solr (we’ve given them some small assistance with configuring and tuning this software over the last few months).

The API, available on the Boliven website, offers a REST based service and returns patent data in JSON or XML – so users can easily integrate patent data with their own applications. It can also return PDFs or summaries of the selected patents. In addition, the API will allow users to search and query Boliven’s database of 45+ million science literature documents including journal publications and medical device trials. That’s around 100 million items in total.

Like the Guardian’s Open Platform which I wrote about previously, this is a great example of open source search technology as a platform for new delivery methods – showing how effective (and economical) it can be at this large scale.

It didn’t take me long to find my own small contribution to the patent landscape.

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October 7th, 2011

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