The Enterprise Search Market in 2016
The enterprise search market has changed dramatically this decade. With Google’s recent announcement that their Search Appliance has reached end-of-life, they’ve joined a distinguished list of vendors that have ceded the market. I’m sure they’ll be back with a cloud-first business search solution soon, but they’ve left a void that many vendors are trying fill.
Compared to just six years ago, the enterprise search market is virtually unrecognizable. Back in 2010, search was tightly bound to Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), leaving only a handful of software giants able to seriously compete. In 2016, organizations are less reliant on single-vendor “walled garden deployments”, allowing more variety and competition.
The market for enterprise search is expected to grow to $5.02 billion by 2020, but it’s anybody’s guess which vendor will be in the lead. The enterprise search market is in a period of transition and lacks a dominant leader. Because of market uncertainty, and thanks to the proliferation of amazing open source offerings, many organizations now choose to build their own solutions instead of betting on options that may not be around in a few years.
Let’s take a look at how the enterprise search market has adapted and where it may go.
Vendors Who Have Ceded the Enterprise Search Market
To appreciate how dramatically the enterprise search market has evolved, let’s look at what’s changed for each of Gartner’s leading enterprise search vendors from 2010:
- Microsoft: Between the SharePoint juggernaut and the then-recently acquired FAST, Microsoft was a darling of enterprise search in 2010. They’ve since discontinued FAST ESP, stopped innovating SharePoint on-prem search, and shifted most of their focus to Office 365.
- Autonomy: Autonomy was perhaps the most visionary and nimble vendor, right up until its botched acquisition by HP in October 2011. Since then, innovation has mostly been disrupted by poor integration and staff turnover.
- Endeca: October 2011 was a big month for mergers and acquisitions. The same week that HP announced its acquisition of Autonomy, Oracle announced its purchase of Endeca. Endeca still has a foothold as an eDiscovery platform, but its growth has slowed significantly.
- OpenText: OpenText continues to bleed marketshare and has disappeared from Gartner’s enterprise search quadrant completely.
- EMC, Hyland, Xerox, Adobe, Alfresco, etc.: The majority of 2010 enterprise search market leaders have fallen off of the radar completely.
- Google: Mentioned above, they’ve dropped their Google Search Appliance product line with no alternative announced. Google featured prominently on multiple Gartner quadrants, although not in 2010.
The New Enterprise Search Market Leaders
The baton has largely been passed, with the following vendors recognized in Gartner’s August 2015 quadrant as enterprise search leaders:
- Attivio: Attivio provides an intriguing blend of search, BI, and automation tools. Attivio is one of the newest search vendors, meaning they’re not as burdened by legacy design decisions and thinking.
- Coveo: Coveo has the most momentum in enterprise search and targeted offerings for specific platforms like Salesforce and Sitecore.
- HP: Although evolution has slowed, Autonomy and HP’s other search offerings still provide compelling enough capabilities to earn a leadership position.
- Lexmark (Perceptive): After being acquired by Lexmark in 2010, Perceptive is the one vendor on this list that reinvested in enterprise search and was upgraded in Gartner’s analysis.
- Sinequa: Sinequa focuses on big data search and provides a wealth of connectors and capabilities.
Open Source Search Solutions
The largest communities for enterprise search practitioners and enthusiasts are focused on open source solutions.
A small passion project named Lucene has grown from humble origins in 1999 to become the world’s most popular search library. It provides the core features for efficiently indexing and executing search queries. Lucene became an official top-level Apache project in 2005 and full-service search platforms have since been built atop its library.
The two most popular search platforms are Apache Solr and Elasticsearch. Both are full-service enterprise search platforms, with a large library of connectors, administrative tools, and facilities for scaling to handle any combination of data volume, freshness targets, and query volume. A handful of innovative companies like LucidWorks have popped up to extend and support the Lucene ecosystem.
The majority of Alexa’s top public-facing websites either run Lucene directly (AOL, Apple, Jira, and Twitter Trends), Solr (AWS CloudSearch, CNet, Netflix, and WhiteHouse.gov), or Elasticsearch (Azure Search, GitHub, LinkedIn, and Wikipedia).
The same tools for website search and application search are also commonly used for enterprise search. The majority of clients I speak with these days consider Solr or Elasticsearch for their enterprise search needs before considering a commercial product.
The Future of Enterprise Search
I predict the short-term market momentum will continue to favor open source solutions. There’s a ripe opportunity for someone to package up and provide a turn-key user experience for deploying enterprise search.
Microsoft and Amazon come the closest in offering Platform-as-a-Service search building blocks, but the market needs a polished and extensible Software-as-a-Service platform. Companies want to be able to spin up search, connect their data sources in the matter of hours, and pay a monthly bill without having to think about platforms.
I expect we’ll see more small vendors try to offer a one-stop search portal in the cloud. I also expect the large vendors like Microsoft and Google will redouble their investments to try and catch up. After all, user experience is more and more dependent on search every day.