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Magic Quadrant for Information Access Technology

30 September 2008

Whit Andrews, Rita E. Knox

Gartner RAS Core Research Note G00161178

The increased visibility of information access technology in various aspects of enterprise IT systems has attracted the interest of megavendors and accelerated the market's consolidation. This Magic Quadrant will help you find the right vendor for your needs.

What You Need to Know

This document was revised on 1 October 2008. For more information, see the Corrections page on gartner.com.
This Magic Quadrant assesses vendors with capabilities that go beyond enterprise search to encompass a range of technologies. Their capabilities include search; federated search, content classification, categorization and clustering; fact and entity extraction; taxonomy creation and management; information presentation (for example, visualization) to support analysis and understanding; and desktop search to address user-controlled repositories in order to locate and "invoke" documents, data, e-mail and intelligence.
We consider all enterprise search vendors to be information access technology vendors. However, those that only offer search capabilities (frequently called "keyword search") are neither Visionaries nor candidates for the Leaders quadrant, although they are part of the market. Finding information, and acting on it intelligently, demands increasingly sophisticated and innovative strategies and technologies.
We recommend that large commercial and government enterprises select at least an information access platform vendor for the majority of future projects. Platform vendors offer modular architectures, wide varieties of relevance modeling, multiple vertical applications and significant customizability. These enterprises should also typically have a tactical vendor to increase agility for short-term and quick-start projects. Tactical vendors may lack architectural sophistication and customizability, but their products are quicker to deploy and easier to understand. Often, enterprises obtain search as part of a different product, such as a portal or enterprise content management (ECM) application. In such cases, these enterprises may choose to make this embedded search a target for federation. Large enterprises must also recognize the need to explore more specialized products for certain important projects, such as e-discovery, e-commerce search and research science support.

Magic Quadrant

Figure 1. Magic Quadrant for Information Access Technology

Figure 1.Magic Quadrant for Information Access Technology
Source: Gartner (September 2008)

Market Overview
Information access technologies access applications such as document management, Web content management and relational database management systems to provide users with insight into their contents. Increasingly, information access technology is also expected to include results from enterprise applications, such as customer relationship management (CRM) and legacy systems. In addition, it increasingly looks outside enterprises as well, to premium sources of information, Web sites and elements of the social Web. Information access technology is often acquired as an embedded aspect of other applications, and OEM arrangements are significant for information access vendors. Portal, ECM, business application and other vendors frequently include enterprise search as part of their products.
The first and most mature information access technology is search engine technology. It has been common since the mid-1990s, and is typically applied to unstructured data in document repositories. It includes both enterprise and desktop search. Increasingly, auto categorization, creative visualization, content analytics and taxonomy support technologies are being added to this category.
This Magic Quadrant addresses enterprise information access vendors. Many of these vendors orient their technology specifically toward addressing particular business problems, such as issues of legal discovery and publishing. Many also offer desktop search applications, and although such personal search technology is not a primary focus of, or a requirement for, any of the vendors we have included, its importance is growing. Information access appliances are increasingly popular as enterprises like their simplicity. Also, content analytics is emerging as a category of its own; it is not fully covered here, but is a critical aspect of our innovation measure. Many vendors that don't offer search do provide numerous content analytics functions.
Total software revenue in the world's enterprise search market in 2007 was $860.3 million. We forecast it to grow to $1.5 billion by 2012, for a compound annual growth rate of 11.4% (see "Dataquest Insight: Technology and Vendor Consolidation Will Drive the Enterprise Search Market Through 2012").
The enterprise information access market, like most technology markets (although not necessarily many of those that have existed as long), has seen many acquisitions, though the long-term trend for consolidation is partly offset by the arrival of new vendors. Most notably, during the past year, Microsoft acquired Fast Search & Transfer, a Norwegian information access leader, in a major transaction with far-reaching ramifications. In some cases, consolidation eliminates software and ultimately forces clients to shift to new packages; for example, when Autonomy acquired Verity, it started moving clients to its own software; Fast Search & Transfer did the same when it bought AltaVista and later Convera's enterprise business. In other cases, the impact is lesser — Microsoft, for instance, is maintaining Fast Search & Transfer's software and has even pledged a commitment to support it on Linux. Most important, the variety of choices from midsize vendors is shrinking as the megavendors compete in this market with growing enthusiasm.

Market Definition/Description
Information access technologies find, collect and condense information or map its native location, so that users may actively seek it, analyze it effectively and remain informed about it. Enterprise search, in which users' queries are matched against an index to return relevant documents and data, is an element of information access. Information access also includes more sophisticated capabilities, such as elements of content analytics.

Inclusion and Exclusion Criteria
We have included in this Magic Quadrant only those vendors that incorporate search as the foundational capability of their information access products. Many include other capabilities such as auto categorization, taxonomy functions and clustering, but those that offer only these capabilities, with no search, were excluded.
We have only included vendors that actively market their products in two or more of the following continental markets: Asia, North America, South America, Europe and Australia. We also required vendors to have grossed more than $12 million in revenue (for any kind of sale) in the four quarters ending 31 March 2008. Publicly traded vendors' filings were considered sufficient evidence of this. Privately held vendors were asked to provide documentation supporting such figures, and third-party sources were also consulted.
We also required that vendors actively market their products in more than two major vertical markets, and in more than one horizontal application category (such as e-commerce and customer self-service).
Open-source search engines do exist, but none is significant enough to threaten the commercial market. Lucene is the most prominent, but we have excluded it because it is not a commercial entity and is supported by a non-commercial community. However, it is growing in influence, as numerous vendors are turning to it to manage indexing. With rare exceptions, enterprises find it too taxing, in terms of resources, to develop with. However, the arrival of Solr, a product founded on Lucene, could change this situation in the medium term.
In addition, we required that vendors be able to sell their information access products separately from other products (such as portals, infrastructure, records management and CRM offerings). This meant the exclusion of SAP, which stopped selling its search products separately from its portal products in August 2008, although the vendor says this will change with the release of a new SAP Enterprise Search product (initially scheduled for the first half of 2008, but since delayed by a change of strategy).

Fabasoft/Mindbreeze is new this year to the Magic Quadrant. This European vendor has traction in central Europe and has started trying to penetrate the U.S. market.

Many vendors have been removed from the Magic Quadrant this year because they did not meet one of more of the inclusion criteria. These criteria are considerably stricter this year, because enterprises are increasingly looking to a core set of vendors with substantial financial resources and long-term prospects. Consequently, the following vendors do not appear this year: Business Objects (now part of SAP), Consona, Coveo, Dieselpoint, dtSearch, InQuira, IntelliSearch, Kaidara Software, Mercado, Mondosoft (now owned by SurfRay), Omniture, PolySpot, Progress Software, Siderean Software, SLI Systems, Thunderstone, WCC and X1 Technologies. Their exclusion does not reflect any major change in their suitability for projects — only alterations to our inclusion criteria.
Fast Search & Transfer is now analyzed under Microsoft, its new owner.

Evaluation Criteria

Ability to Execute
Product/service is largely determined by a product's versatility in providing connectors for security models and its ability to connect to repositories effectively. Additionally, the operating systems supported are a minor component of this score.
Overall viability of a vendor is determined by a number of financial indicators, such as cash and cash equivalents, number of full-time (or equivalent) employees and profits. We also considered whether a vendor is publicly traded, as this affects enterprises' perception of its strength.
Sales execution/pricing reflects the licenses sold in the last year, revenue and the appeal of the vendor's pricing models.
Customer experience reflects what we know of a vendor's performance from our own experience, and impressions of its position and performance gained through our inquiry and outreach services.
Operations assesses a vendor's geographical breadth in sales and support.
Market responsiveness and track record and marketing execution are not covered.

Table 1. Ability to Execute Evaluation Criteria

Evaluation Criteria
Overall Viability (Business Unit, Financial, Strategy, Organization)
Sales Execution/Pricing
Market Responsiveness and Track Record
no rating
Marketing Execution
no rating
Customer Experience

Source: Gartner


Completeness of Vision
Market understanding is a combination of the vision that a vendor's management has for how to thrive in the extremely challenging market for information access technology and of how that vision is manifested in practice.
Marketing strategy assesses how a vendor actually brings its products to market, including its choice of vertical and horizontal markets and the logic of its strategic marketing goal.
Offering (product) strategy reflects a vendor's abilities to scale from the perspectives of user volume and data volume; provide innovative and broad relevancy models using document content and other information (such as user behavior); analyze user queries; address desktop, enterprise and Web content together.
Business model assesses a vendor's product and service delivery models; greater breadth in such models — particularly those with the greatest potential — confers a better score.
Vertical/industry strategy looks at a vendor's range of credible offerings for vertical markets, and at how appropriate those markets are for strategic investment, based on how fertile they are likely to prove for that vendor. This criterion also accounts for installations the vendor can cite to demonstrate its ability to support transformational projects.
Innovation is assessed by looking at several different factors. These include the vendor's abilities to address non-textual documents and objects (including audio and video); federate queries and mix or juxtapose results; perform content analytics; aid users in disambiguating results through conversational interfaces; use elements not resident in documents to establish relevancy (such as citation analysis); and provide enterprise administrators with clear, meaningful reports on why particular data is returned as relevant.
Geographic strategy is covered not here but under operations (see the Ability to Execute criteria).
Sales strategy is not covered.

Table 2. Completeness of Vision Evaluation Criteria

Evaluation Criteria
Market Understanding
Marketing Strategy
Sales Strategy
no rating
Offering (Product) Strategy
Business Model
Vertical/Industry Strategy
Geographic Strategy
no rating

Source: Gartner


All the Leaders demonstrate significant architectural flexibility. They also have strong, innovative and broad means of determining the relevancy of results returned to users, and of providing developers with the tools and the flexibility to tune relevancy settings. They have the finances to weather hard times and sufficient resources to invest in both organic and inorganic technology and business growth. They also have enough depth and strength to serve as platform vendors whose software can be used to solve most information access problems.

Challengers possess sufficient resources to penetrate the information access technology market effectively. However, they typically lack the vision to address all information access opportunities. Information access technology for enterprise use is not a core source of revenue for Challengers. Any of these vendors could emerge as Leaders in less than 24 months, if they invest adeptly in information access technology.

Visionaries demonstrate imaginative and insightful approaches to the information access technology market, but currently lack the resources to prove their leadership and guarantee future strength. They all possess architectural flexibility and creative means of establishing relevancy. Greater financial resources and more market traction would improve their position. Visionaries could become Leaders through stronger market performance. Recommind and Exalead are the only Visionaries in this year's Magic Quadrant, as changes to our inclusion criteria eliminated several previous members of this quadrant.

Niche Players
Niche Players possess the attributes necessary to fulfill the needs of certain types of information access project, but they lack the depth and breadth to satisfy a wide variety of projects. In some cases, they lack the proven financial resources of Leaders and Challengers. Nor can they demonstrate the depth of vision that indicates they are leading the market. On the other hand, they are typically right for a particular set of needs, and they offer attractive pricing, special capabilities and vertical-market knowledge.

Vendor Strengths and Cautions


  • Autonomy has extremely broad sales and support presence in many world regions. In Europe, it can sometimes position itself as the best global software vendor with local presence.
  • Autonomy's connector family gives it a uniquely broad capability to index from a variety of content sources. These include records management applications to which few, if any, other vendors connect.
  • This vendor's software has demonstrated the ability to handle extremely large-scale installations, including corpora larger than a petabyte and subsecond indexing of very large volumes of documents.
  • Autonomy provides for deep user profiling, including users' search histories, explicit roles, behavior in day-to-day authoring, and interactions with external and internal information sources.
  • Autonomy has particular facility with non-textual multimedia such as video, having invested in video before any other vendor in this year's Magic Quadrant. Content analytics is another strength.

  • Autonomy's opaque pricing model can irritate prospective customers, as they cannot predict what price the vendor will offer. Also, they often find its proposed price the highest of any they receive.
  • Sales processes are aggressive, sometimes insistent.
  • Autonomy's ambitions in the field of compliance and litigation could eclipse its general-purpose information access platform. The company's recent acquisitions and marketing efforts have centered on the compliance and litigation sector.
  • Gartner clients report they find it a challenge to get support and attention for upgrade and improvement sales.


  • Endeca is increasing its sales and support presence in Europe and Asia by adding support and sales offices.
  • Endeca's connector family gives it a particularly broad capability to index from a variety of content sources. These include manufacturing applications to which few, if any, other vendors connect. Additionally, Endeca has a unique search federation connector strategy that extends its reach through enterprises in an innovative fashion.
  • Endeca records user searches, navigational behavior and the intersection of the two, providing a unique perspective on users' past choices and unusually rich user profiles. This information can be combined with explicit profile data from enterprise-established permissions and privilege lists.
  • Endeca has a particular facility with action-oriented content analytics, such as analysis models covering a broad spectrum of user behaviors and textual analytics (including concept extraction). Its recommendation and document summarization engines are especially effective.

  • Endeca's significant ambition brings with it a risk of losing focus. Alone among the major non-infrastructure vendors, Endeca aims to gain stature as a platform vendor by establishing skills in a very wide range of vertical and horizontal markets simultaneously. But this ambition is also a strength, one that could enable Endeca to extend its success in enterprises through multiple projects.
  • Challenging market conditions make Endeca a uniquely attractive acquisition target because of its size and position.


  • For a comparatively young vendor, Exalead offers rich content analytics.
  • Exalead has demonstrated the ability to handle extremely heavy search traffic, including 800-query-per-second "spikes" on a popular site with 15 million documents.

  • Exalead does not invest significantly in the ability to exploit users' historical behavior or explicit status in an organization as means of determining the relevancy of results.
  • Although Exalead has sought to expand in North America, it still relies largely on European business.

Expert System

  • This vendor is extremely good at analyzing and searching external data sets for competitive and market intelligence.

  • Expert System is still Europe-centered.
  • Expert System targets small-scale installations measured in gigabytes.
  • Expert System does not invest significantly in the ability to exploit users' historical behavior or explicit status in an organization as means of determining the relevancy of results.


  • Fabasoft/Mindbreeze has a simple pricing model based on named and unnamed user count. It provides a predictable initial cost base.
  • A significant number of index connectors allows for a variety of content sources.
  • For a comparatively new vendor, Fabasoft/Mindbreeze has strong content analytics and federation capabilities.

  • Fabasoft/Mindbreeze remains Europe-centered.
  • Fabasoft/Mindbreeze offers limited user profiling.
  • Fabasoft/Mindbreeze must attract more system integrators and increase its recruitment if it is to grow swiftly in North America.


  • Google has a broad sales and support presence in many world regions.
  • Extremely simple pricing and delivery models include application service provision and well-defined tiers of search appliances.
  • Google has demonstrated an ability to handle extremely large-scale installations.
  • Google has a strong consumer brand identity in relation to search.

  • Google does not invest significantly in the ability to exploit users' historical behavior or explicit status in an organization as means of determining the relevancy of results.
  • Google lacks deep customization capabilities.
  • Most of Google's development is targeted toward its "consumer" business — the advertising-centric core of Google.com and other Web businesses. However, its enterprise coverage, which also includes advertising-powered products, is growing.


  • IBM has a broad sales and support presence in many world regions.
  • IBM has particular facility with non-textual multimedia and content analytics.
  • IBM's next-generation capabilities, such as social search, are growing.

  • IBM has multiple information access products, including a free product developed with Yahoo, a basic enterprise edition, an edition with significantly advanced capabilities for strategic deployments in particular vertical sectors, and an offering (IBM Content Analyzer) intended to fuse search and business intelligence. Although IBM's ability to address lucrative horizontal sectors such as e-discovery bodes well for the future, and although its broad range of offerings caters for deals of different sizes, these factors also present IBM with a challenge when it comes to rationalizing its branded products.
  • For many of its products, IBM does not invest significantly in the ability to exploit users' historical behavior or explicit status in an organization as means of determining the relevancy of results.

ISYS Search Software

  • ISYS has a significant sales and support presence in many world regions. For a small vendor founded in Australia, it has a particularly strong presence in Asia.
  • A simple pricing model based on seats and servers makes it easy for prospective customers to predict their costs.
  • For a small vendor, ISYS has particular strength in content analytics.

  • ISYS does not invest significantly in the ability to exploit users' historical behavior or explicit status in an organization as means of determining the relevancy of results.


  • Kazeon has an extremely simple pricing and delivery model for its appliances.
  • Kazeon focuses closely on the compliance and e-discovery sectors.

  • Kazeon has a limited sales and support presence in many world regions.
  • Kazeon does not invest significantly in the ability to exploit users' historical behavior or explicit status in an organization as means of determining the relevancy of results.


  • The Fast Search & Transfer product can establish multiple profiles for individual users, based on divisions such as time of day or location ("at home" versus "away"). A Fast client uses such profiles to provide recommendations and to store analysis of the success of those recommendations for future reference.
  • Microsoft's technology has demonstrated the ability to handle extremely large data sets and heavy traffic, including installations with "spikes" of over 1,000 queries per second and multi-terabyte corpora.
  • Microsoft has a broad sales and support presence in many world regions.
  • Fast's connector family gives it a particularly broad capability to index from a variety of content sources. These include records management applications that relatively few, if any, other vendors connect with.
  • Microsoft has particular facility with non-textual multimedia, especially video.

  • Microsoft's multiple products — following the acquisition of Fast — cater for a broad range of needs, but can confuse prospective customers.
  • Microsoft must continue to assimilate Fast effectively.
  • There is potential for Microsoft to become distracted as it strives to provide effective search facilities in multiple products and divisions.

Open Text

  • Open Text has a significant sales and support presence in many world regions, including Asia and Europe.
  • A simple pricing model based on concurrent users and modules makes it easy for prospective customers to predict their costs.
  • Open Text's multimedia strategy for content management — through its Artesia Digital Media Group and acquisition of eMotion — recognizes the growing need for information access technology that can analyze non-textual content.

  • Open Text is positioning its search technology within its own product family effectively and investing in its use for Open Text-resident data and information. However, Open Text does not market its search technology significantly beyond its core customers, and its vision is most evident in projects that demand considerable customization.
  • Open Text does not invest significantly in the ability to exploit users' historical behavior or explicit status in an organization as means of determining the relevancy of results.


  • Oracle has a broad sales and support presence in many world regions.
  • A simple pricing model based on CPUs and users (or workers) makes it easy for prospective customers to predict their costs.

  • Oracle does not invest significantly in the ability to exploit users' historical behavior or explicit status in an organization as means of determining the relevancy of results.


  • Recommind has invested extremely effectively in providing collaboration and process support for professional services and litigation-oriented markets.
  • Recommind is extending its European presence with sales and support offices.
  • This vendor is unusually good at using statistical analysis to extract meaning from documents.

  • Recommind must expand its vertical-market strategy if it is to target other lucrative markets effectively.


  • A simple pricing model based on corpus volume or document count makes it easy for prospective customers to predict their costs.
  • A significant number of index connectors allows for a variety of content sources, including external sources used by legal departments, for example.
  • Vivisimo's next-generation capabilities, such as social search, are growing.

  • Compared with the other Leaders, Vivisimo's financial resources are fairly limited.


  • For a comparatively small vendor with less extensive financial resources than other Leaders, ZyLAB has an unusually broad sales and support presence in Europe and Asia.
  • ZyLAB addresses images, video and text with unusual effectiveness.
  • ZyLAB has a significant number of government customers around the world.
  • ZyLAB has a strong strategy for addressing lucrative vertical markets related to and litigation and investigation.

  • ZyLAB supports only Microsoft operating systems.
  • ZyLAB does not invest significantly in the ability to exploit users' historical behavior or explicit status in an organization as means of determining the relevancy of results.

The Magic Quadrant is copyrighted 30 September 2008 by Gartner, Inc. and is reused with permission. The Magic Quadrant is a graphical representation of a marketplace at and for a specific time period. It depicts Gartner’s analysis of how certain vendors measure against criteria for that marketplace, as defined by Gartner. Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in the Magic Quadrant, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors placed in the “Leaders” quadrant. The Magic Quadrant is intended solely as a research tool, and is not meant to be a specific guide to action. Gartner disclaims all warranties, express or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

© 2008 Gartner, Inc. and/or its Affiliates. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction and distribution of this publication in any form without prior written permission is forbidden. The information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of such information. Although Gartner's research may discuss legal issues related to the information technology business, Gartner does not provide legal advice or services and its research should not be construed or used as such. Gartner shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in the information contained herein or for interpretations thereof. The opinions expressed herein are subject to change without notice.

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