Copernic Searches for SMEs

By Patricia Fusco | Posted October 08, 2003

It never fails. You're searching for that one document you know is in the system, but you can't find it when you need it the most, which is right now.

Muttering aloud you ask yourself "What is the name of that blessed file? Why does it have such an obscure title? Who wrote it anyway?"

You're boss is waiting, the clients are waiting, and you're still wading through a seemingly endless pile of computerized files hoping to find the exact document you need to save the day. You think to yourself, "there's got to be a better way."

There is a better way to search through documents, files, and forms stored on a server, intranet or website — and it's surprisingly inexpensive, at least at the start.

Copernic, a search technology provider, this week debuted its first business-class product, Copernic Enterprise Search. Don't let the "enterprise" put you off the product as pricey, Copernic is offering a free, fully functional version of its meta crawler that supports searching up to 5,000 documents. Need to search 10,000 documents? Then the same search program will cost about $4,000.

Martin Bouchard, Copernic president and CEO, said more than 30 million individuals currently use Copernic Agent, the company's popular desktop search program. Rooted in the company's same meta crawler expertise, Bouchard said Copernic Enterprise Search is designed to do far more than act as an online research assistant.

"Copernic Enterprise Search is designed for small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), those with 500 or fewer employees, that deal with a lot of information every day," Bouchard said. "Any business that needs enterprise search capabilities, without the enterprise price, will find our program very easy use and deploy."

Knowledge workers in any industry need easy and fast access to stored information. Be it biotechnology, engineering, legal or financial in nature, Bouchard said the "more you work with information or digital information," the more you need a quality search product."

However, the enterprise search market is crowded with providers — Verity, Google, FAST, Autonomy, and others each offer scaled-down versions of their search produces to smaller businesses. Even so, Verity's Ultraseek and Google's search appliance start at about $20,000. Bouchard insists that small enterprise search needs are different, and these "expensive, watered down" products simply won't do.

"These scaled-down versions don't adapt to small business needs," Bouchard said. "It's not the right way to go. They are time-intensive, difficult to install and deploy, complex to administrate and difficult to use. They're also too expensive for most small enterprises."

Bouchard said that even at $4,000, Copernic Enterprise Search costs about half as much as competitor's products.

"We decided to be aggressive and offer a free version of Copernic Enterprise Search," Bouchard said. "It's really free, there is no expiration after 30-days of use. There is no limit to the program's functionality."

Copernic Enterprise Search provides easy access to information stored on file servers, intranets or websites. It is capable of searching through documents in different formats, such as Microsoft Office, HTML, PDF, XML and others. The meta crawler generates highly relevant search results through proprietary linguistic and statistical summarization technologies.

Bouchard said Copernic tried to balance all things together — price, functionality, and easy deployment — to meet the distinct needs of small enterprises.

"On the surface, Copernic Enterprise Search looks simple," Bouchard said. "Knowledge workers find it very easy to use. But behind the scene, it's a different story. "

Copernic Enterprise Search is indeed a complex indexing process. The program takes information sources, such as files, websites and public Exchange folders, crawls them, and converts then to condensed all-text documents. Once converted, Copernic Enterprise Search next analyzes and summarizes the documents, extracting specific data. The information is then indexed, by keyword, concept, summary, author, title and date. From there, security permissions are applied — so read-only files remain read-only.

Knowledge workers get the search results they need, and network administrators get an easy-to-manage search product that is built on fault tolerant architecture. All this is an easy-to-manage, user-friendly Web interface.

Bouchard explained that Copernic Enterprise Search goes to great extremes to ensure the integrity of its search index.

"Most search systems schedule routine index refreshes," Bouchard said. "But waiting 24-hours for content to be refreshed means that some users could be working with outdated data."

Copernic Enterprise Search avoids outdated indexing by monitoring every change that is done to a document stored in the network. While scheduled re-indexing usually takes place when network traffic is low to conserve bandwidth, Copernic Enterprise Search spreads out its re-indexing on the fly, breaking down the processing time required into small tasks, so bandwidth fluctuations are minimized.

System requirements include 256 Mb of available memory processing with a Pentium III chip, 800 Mhz or faster. Copernic Enterprise Search works with any Windows 2000 Server SP1 and up operating system. The search application requires 70 Mb of hard drive space plus storage for indexing, which will vary with the number of documents being searched.

Copernic Enterprise Search can be downloaded for free. The unlimited license includes program upgrades and e-mail support with 48-hour turnaround time guaranteed. Network administrators will be notified when the free version, supporting up to 5,000 documents, reaches 80 percent of it s capacity. Users can still search exiting documents, but once the maximum capacity has been achieved, no more files can be added until the search program is upgraded. Phone support and maintenance is optional; fees are 20 percent of the program price per year.

Bouchard said the small business case for Copernic is made by the fact that there is not risk at all in trying it.

"We many not have the brand name recognition that Verity has, but there's no risk associated with trying Copernic Enterprise Search," Bouchard said. After all, the return on investment with a free product is easy to measure.

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