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AltaVista Enterprise Search
FAST (Fast Search and Transfer) has purchased the AltaVista Enterprise Search business from Overture, which will retain the Web portal search engine. This move is eerily reminiscent of the breakup of Inktomi, with the Web portal search engine purchased by Yahoo! and the enterprise search engine (Ultraseek) by Verity, and the recent sale of the FAST web portal AllTheWeb to Overture. However in this case, the AltaVista Enterprise Search Engine will be supported but not developed further, and customers will be encouraged to move to the Fast Enterprise Search platform.
AltaVista, a pioneering web search engine, is being acquired by Overture, which provides pay-for-performance search services on public web sites for $140 million in cash and stock. While there is no public statement on future directions for the AltaVista Enterprise Search products, the company has indicated that it will continue to support current customers.
Platforms: Windows NT, Windows 2000, Tru64 UNIX, HP/UX, Solaris, Linux,
and AIX (SDK only)
Enterprise: based either on the number of documents indexed or the number of users, ranging from $30,000 to more than $500,000.
Desktop: $25-$30 per user
- Uses the same code as the AltaVista webwide search service, so it's very standard
- SDK (Search Developer Kit) code library provides more flexibility and customization options.
- Powerful indexing robot can spider thousands of pages per hour
- Language recognition and searching for over 30 languages, including Asian double-byte characters.
- Handles over 200 file formats, including XML, PDF, PostScript, Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and WordPerfect, very important for Intranet search engines.
Updates and New Releases
- AltaVista Enterprise Search 2.0
- open architecture for integration with other applications
- document-level security checked before displaying search results
- automatic classification of documents to taxonomy categories
- AltaVista Desktop Search (released February
- Personal workstation search engine.
- Indexes over 200 file formats.
- Can search email messages by sender, recipient, folder, date range or content.
- User control over files to search, format of results, index schedule
- Cost $25-$30 per employee.
- Windows only.
- AltaVista Enterprise Search (Fall, 2001)
- Designed for EIPs (Enterprise Information Portals) and Intranets.
- Indexing of Microsoft Exchange servers.
- Integration with categorization tools.
- Security and access-level control.
- Tools for connecting to organizational policies and practices.
- J2EE support for Enterprise Java Beans and Java Servlets.
- Now runs on HP-UX version 11 operating system (64-bit).
- November 2000 Update: focus on the SDK and e-business
- Better integration with e-commerce applications with additional examples and documentation
- Additional APIs for Java, COM (Visual Basic) and Perl
- Extended linguistic tools for Japanese, Chinese and Korean
- Custom ranking and sorting of search results (SDK required)
- Quality and capacity planning, including performance and log analysis, cache tuning
- Working with custom linguistics tools for natural-language queries
- Version 3, March 2000
- Java administration interface for many important options
- JDBC interface to databases such as Oracle
- Flexible control over indexing, including separate schedules for subsections
- Improved web gathering robot now maps and analyzes links relationships for most efficient spidering
- Linguistic processing of queries
Note: in early February, 2000, AltaVista announced an affiliate network allowing selected sites to include AltaVista search boxes, and the AltaVista Business Solutions group to develop and market the AltaVista Search engine. While the search box HTML code will be "open source", the AltaVista Search engine code will not: some reporters misunderstood this and wrote incorrect stories indicating that the search engine code would be distributed or that the engine itself would be given away.
Articles and Reviews
Software Wins CMP Media's Intelligent Enterprise Readers' Choice Award
for Best Information Retrieval Product Press release, January 29, 2001.
far and wide for the right data InfoWorld, August 27 / September 3,
2001 by Cathleen Moore.
Describes the value of search engines and categorization as essential elements of corporate portal infrastructures, to handle the "deluge" of information within enterprises. Quotes Aberdeen analyst Guy Creese who points out that without a good way to search, corporations would be "blowing their investment in the content". Covers recent announcements of search and categorization features by Autonomy, Verity, AltaVista, iPhrase, and Smartlogik (Muscat) .
offers corporate network searching apps ComputerWorld, June 12, 2001
by Todd R. Weiss
Describes the Enterprise and Personal search products, describing features and quoting analyst Dana Gardner on the benefits of organizations using the search engine to "get a handle on their information assets".
- New AltaVista
App: Too Invasive? Associated Press, June 12, 2001
Describes AltaVista Enterprise features of indexing data on corporate workstations as well as servers and depositories. Quotes some analysts, including Dana Gardner, praising the power for corporate knowledge discovery, and privacy experts describing the problems with exposing personal writing and email. The company says there will be ways to limit indexing and protect specific areas.
- ZDNet UK PC Magazine
Technical Innovation Awards 2000: Best Network Application
Praises the flexibility of indexing features, ease of use, wide platform support and familiar interface.
PowerRankings for Nordstrom December 18, 2000
Praise for Nordstrom's AltaVista implementation: "a topnotch search engine that easily finds products".
- Search Engines
Fire on More Cylinders InternetWeek December 7, 2000 by Christine Zimmerman
Describes the new features of in the November 2000 AltaVista Search update, and benefits of search engines to e-commerce sites. Also mentions incorporation of Netscape Compass into iPlanet Portal Server.
- Search Engines: The Hunt
Is On Network Computing Magazine: October 16, 2000 by Avi Rappoport
In-depth discussion of search engines for e-commerce and other web sites covers features and future trends, software vs. services, database vs. text searching, natural-language searching, and open-source search engines covering ht://Dig and mnoGoSearch (formerly UdmSearch). The testing included indexing over 150,000 pages, and covered administration tools, customization, search features, relevance ranking and search logs. Products were Ultraseek (then Inktomi Search) (which won Editor's Choice), AltaVista Search, and Excalibur RetrievalWare, services were Atomz Enterprise Search and Searchbutton Corporate, which has since addressed some of the shortcomings reported. Also included an email poll of Network Computing readers.
- Finders, Seekers:
AltaVista's Search Engine indexes an enterprise's shared data resources
InternetWeek, July 18, 2000 by Alan Zeichick
Describes installation and testing of AltaVista 3.0, with kudos for the Java-based administration interface. Discusses indexing by both web crawling and local network servers, familiar and straightforward search interface, language recognition, and features and problems with customization of the page layouts. Rates the product technically sound and excellent in general, though the price was not available.
- AltaVista Renews
Its Push Into Business Market Information Week, March 27, 2000 by Matthew
Description of version 3.0 concentrates on SDK and other new features, includes quotes from Ariba Network.
Pushes the Search Envelope PCWeek (now eWeek), April 24, 2000 by Jim
Positive review of the new version praises relevance rankings, C and Java APIs, administration interface, and database connectivity. Warns of hefty memory and disk space requirements, minimal reporting and search logs.
Research on web crawling done by AltaVista engineers to support future versions of the search engine.
A Scalable, Extensible Web Crawler World Wide Web, volume 2 (1999),
number 4 (December) by Allan Heydon and Marc Najork
Describes the design and architecture of a scalable multi-server robot crawler, modularization, including filtering by type, extracting links, queuing, testing for duplicates, domain name resolution and alias host names, testing for multiple links to the same page, threading and synchronous I/O, session IDs, and more.
a Search Engine for INRIA]: Rapport Final (in French) INRIA, July
8, 1999 by Francis Avnaim
Report of a committee charged with choosing a search engine for INRIA (French National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control), covering over 200,000 pages. Mainly compares AltaVista Search with Verity, and finds several advantages in AltaVista.
- Ultraseek vs. AltaVista Comparison (Draft) Michigan State University,
March 11, 1999 by Edward Glowacki
Report on the advantages of buying a backup AltaVista Search system or switching to Ultraseek. Main advantages for AltaVista are smaller index sizes and installed base: problems include cumbersome upgrades, config files, difficult customization, searching specific campus zones. Ultraseek's advantages are in the browser administration, index mirroring, zone (collection) system, and Content Classification Engine, but the index size is much larger.
Up Quality Searches Internet Computing, March, 1998 by Kevin Railsback
Comprehensive comparative review of AltaVista eXtension 97, Integrated I-Search 3.0, Microsoft Index Server 2.0, Innotech Net Results 1.2, Verity Search 97 Information Server and Netscape Compass 3.0 (recommended).
- Digital Adds Enhancements
To AltaVista InternetWeek, March 6, 1998 by Ellis Booker
Short announcement of new features in AltaVista Intranet Search 97B, including more file formats, improved support for Asian languages, and Year-20000-compliance.
- AltaVista Search Engine 97 NewMedia, November 24, 1997, by Michael Lynch
No longer available online.
Short but very complimentary article (the product gets an "awesome" rating) using the New Media site as a test.
Web Team - AltaVista Search Interface [Issues] 28 November 1997
Technical notes about how the University of Pennsylvania bypassed the defaults for AltaVista Intranet on the search pages.
- Internal Search
Engines Get You Where You Want To Go TechWeb October 15, 1997 by
Good, thorough coverage of AltaVista eXtension 97, Folio siteDirector 3.1, Ultraseek 1.1, Inmagic/Lycos, DB/Text Intranet Spider, ISYS:Web 2.0, Maxum Phantom 2.0; Microsoft Index Server 3.0, Netscape Compass 3.0, Quadralay WebWorks Search 2.0, Verity IntelliServe 1.0, freeWAIS 0.3, WebGlimpse 4.0B1 and SWISH 1.1.
- Buyer's Guide: Search Engines
WebServer OnLine, 1997 by Lang Zerner
Tables for platforms and configuration, indexing, document types, query languages. Covers AltaVista, Fulcrum, Microsoft Index Server, Compass (now from Netscape), PLWeb Turbo, Excalibur, Verity Search '97 and Ultraseek.
AltaVista Search Intranet Extension 97 for Solaris (Benchin' CyberStore)
Short description of the product and features.
- Presentation at XNET (October
11, 1997, Bob Lehmenkuler and Rich Rosenbaum)
Seminar presentation by AltaVista marketing and engineering about the whole product family, in slide format.