Site search digs into Web Content Management

Site search digs into Web Content Management

March 26, 2009: Web Content Management (CMS) vendors are increasingly offering integrated site search services, with nearly 40% of major Web CMS vendors now embedding the open source Lucene engine, according to research released by analyst firm CMS Watch.

These conclusions stem from the most recent release of The Web CMS Report 2009, in which CMS Watch interviewed web content management customers around the globe to evaluate forty-two solutions in the marketplace. The report can be purchased online from CMS Watch.

"When we first covered Web CMS tools a decade ago, vendors typically embedded site search engines, often ones they built themselves," notes CMS Watch Founder Tony Byrne. Then the pendulum swung the other way, as vendors who recognized the limits of their simple search tools encouraged customers to purchase "best of breed" alternatives, such as Google Search Appliance.

"Web CMS vendors are now integrating site search again," notes CMS Watch analyst Kas Thomas, "and the driver is really Lucene." Lucene is an open source Apache project. Of the forty-two Web CMS vendors evaluated by CMS Watch, nearly 40% (sixteen) have OEMed Lucene, and several others are considering it for future versions.

Successfully embedding a search engine like Lucene into a Web CMS package can bring several potential benefits:

- By understanding the structure of the Web CMS repository, the search engine can access more relevant data, and deliver richer results, more easily than a 3rd-party solution

- Direct access to metadata can support faceted search (a typically expensive feature sometimes called "guided navigation"), where users can drill down through results

- If the Web CMS vendor integrates various optional Lucene modules, the search engine can support the kind of advanced features that Google has trained users to expect, such as stemming, spell-checking, and file filters

To be sure, customers may face potential downsides. "There are different flavors of Lucene, some more productized than others," cautions CMS Watch analyst Adriaan Bloem. "Integrating advanced features, like file filters for Office documents, takes work, and not all Web CMS vendors embedding Lucene have taken the necessary steps to put their solution on par with Google's appliance."

Therefore, customers need to test the maturity and integration of any Lucene OEM. "Make sure your Web CMS vendor didn't just slap in Lucene - or any other search tool -- just because it's free," concludes Byrne.

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