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Yahoo, IBM Target Google Mini

By: David Utter

The entry-level search software product developed by IBM and branded by Yahoo offers enterprise search for free, while making a thinly-veiled threat toward Google's low-end appliance market.

Yahoo, IBM Target Google MiniThe new product's name looks like something that would come out of Microsoft's marketing offices: IBM OmniFind Yahoo! Edition. Yahoo's promotion of the new product, as appearing on the Yahoo Search Blog, has the sort of refreshing chippiness not normally seen outside of a Marc Benioff interview.

"Beyond creating a product that was super easy to use we dont believe that small and mid-sized businesses (or even large enterprises!) should need to spend $1,995 or more to get a reliable and robust enterprise search solution," said the entry penned by Yahoo's Ariel Seidman and IBM's Sean Johnson.

The quip refers to Google Mini, a search appliance sold by Google. The Mini can index up to 50,000 documents for the $1,995 price tag. Yahoo's new product will index 500,000 documents in over 200 file formats, and is available at no charge.

There is an interesting aspect of the product that wasn't mentioned in the announcement today, but was in the IBM OmniFind Yahoo! Edition blog. At the heart of the solution can be found the Unstructured Information Management Architecture (UIMA) IBM developed and subsequently released to the open source world.

I've talked with Marc Andrews, IBM director for strategy & business development for content discovery, about UIMA a couple of times. A year ago, he discussed IBM's approach to search with UIMA as one to address concepts and not just keywords.

The Mayo Clinic and the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, two preeminent medical institutions with repositories of information consisting of thousands upon thousands of documents, were among UIMA's earliest adopters. Some Fortune 500 firms have been using it as well.

In July 2006, IBM began to eye the entry-level market for UIMA among small- and medium-sized businesses. They announced a new product with an even longer name than today's new announcement, the IBM WebSphere Information Integrator OmniFind Starter Edition.

Releasing a free version of the product today, nicely compiled and coupled with the excellent UI design Yahoo capably produces, looks like a good deal for SMBs. Those who need the safety net of paid support can purchase that option from IBM, and of course a growing business with broader needs will have an upgrade path available.

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