IBM, Yahoo launch free search tool

BM and Yahoo plan to launch today a free, enterprise search tool that could rival Google's Mini device.

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IBM and Yahoo plan to launch today a free, enterprise search tool that could rival Google's Mini device.

IBM and Yahoo have developed a free, entry-level, enterprise search application that at least one analyst believes will seriously disrupt the low-end segment of this market where Google has been selling many of its Mini search devices. The server-side application is aimed at companies that haven't tried out enterprise search due to cost and complexity concerns.

Called IBM OmniFind Yahoo Edition, the free tool has been designed to be simple to install and use, and can index up to 500,000 documents from over 200 file types, like Adobe's PDF and Microsoft's Word and Excel.

With that indexing capacity, IBM OmniFind Yahoo Edition poses a significant threat the Google Mini, an analyst said. The Mini is a hardware device loaded with Google search software that starts at $1,995 (£1,016) for 50,000 documents and tops out at 300,000 documents in its $8,995 (£4,579) edition.

"Google will have to react in some way to this product, to differentiate the Mini from a free competitor with more indexing capacity," said Matt Brown, a Forrester Research analyst.

IBM OmniFind Yahoo Edition isn't comparable to more powerful mid-tier products like the Google Search Appliance, nor to high-end systems from companies like Fast Search & Transfer ASA and Autonomy, Brown said. These mid-tier and high-end products have significantly more features, like the ability to index data from many more sources, like business applications.

However, this product is precisely what Eric Brierley had been looking for. Brierley, chief technology officer of Decision Critical, had researched tools like the Google Mini because he wanted to do a full-text indexing of the education and training materials the company stores in its databases and serves up to its health care clients.

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