Enterprise search: The target is moving

Lucid Imagination, an open-source enterprise search company, wants to compete with the established players. However, its target is already shifting.

Lucid Imagination, an open-source enterprise search company, is looking to compete with established players like Autonomy, Microsoft's Fast, and Endeca, but the target is already shifting.

Paula Rooney highlights Lucid CEO Eric Gries' open-source enterprise search plan: be the Red Hat of enterprise search.

Lucid, which just emerged from stealth mode with US$6 million in funding, had already lined up some big customers like Hewlett-Packard and FedEx.

But let's fast forward a bit. Like Red Hat, Lucid will start in one area and need to expand into new adjacent markets. Red Hat can offer a stack of software mainly fueled by its acquisition of JBoss and the middleware it provides. Lucid will have to follow a similar path. Why? The enterprise search market is already shifting.

Last week, enterprise search giant Autonomy acquired Interwoven, a content and document management software outfit, for US$775 million.

Autonomy paid a 36 percent premium based on Interwoven's closing price last week. Why a hefty premium?

Autonomy believes it can cross-sell to Interwoven's customers. But ultimately you're going to see document management and enterprise search merge. Compliance, unstructured data, e-discovery, content management, and search will all be mixed in the same soup of software. Autonomy said that its Interwoven acquisition will "accelerate the delivery of the next-generation unstructured information management software."

The Autonomy/Interwoven combination will have more than 4,600 customers across the globe. According to the companies, the big plan is to take Autonomy's ability to understand content via search and fuse it with Interwoven's systems that manage content interactions.

Overall, Autonomy's plan makes a lot of sense and is likely to put pressure on rivals. Would anyone be surprised if a company like EMC's Documentum unit or IBM picked up Endeca?

In a nutshell, Lucid remains an interesting company to watch but is tackling a moving target. And that target is moving toward a search Swiss Army knife that can navigate the legal, regulatory, and document hurdles that enterprises face.

This article was first published as a blog post on ZDNet.com.

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