IBM and Yahoo! in alliance to disrupt Google

13 Dec 2006

Online search portal Yahoo! is hoping to reverse its flagging fortunes by joining forces with technology giant IBM to challenge Microsoft and Google in the emerging enterprise search market.

IBM’s existing search product, Omnifind, allows organisations to search through internal documents. The new alliance will allow IBM to expand Omnifind to include related web searches powered by Yahoo!.

The key stratagem for IBM is to boost its dealings with small companies. For Yahoo!, which has seen Google eat its lunch in the online advertising market, it is an opportunity to shake up the field of enterprise search, currently dominated by Google and Autonomy as well as Microsoft, SAP and Oracle.

The new combined product will be known as IBM’s OmniFind Yahoo edition (OYE).

Ovum analyst Mike Davis has described the move as disruptive for the enterprise search space and a direct assault on Google’s “sweet spot”.

“OYE is squarely aimed at the market targeted by Google with its Search Appliance (GSA) and Mini and Microsoft with its Office 2007 SharePoint Server for Search (MOSS),” said Davis.

“The free-to-download product offers basic search facilities using an interface already familiar to millions of users. It will index up to 500,000 documents or web pages, supporting 200-plus document types and 30 different languages.”

Davis said OYE is significant on two fronts: firstly it shows a greater willingness by IBM to write simple-to-install software; and secondly, the team that developed OYE recognised that a familiar user experience is a strong reason for selection of a software product.

“A key selling point for the GSA is the use of the same search interface as used on the web site. By partnering with Yahoo!, IBM has taken exactly the same approach providing a tried, tested and refined interface.

“Of course there is no such thing as free lunch. This is just a free starter. IBM will offer 24×7 support at US$1,999 per server per year. But in another challenge to Google, the point of contact is by telephone to a real person in a support centre rather than by email,” Davis observed.

By John Kennedy