Verity upgrades knowledge engine

Verity Inc. this week is expected to unveil the latest version of its high-end information retrieval product, which powers a number of e-commerce sites and government portals.

K2 Enterprise 4.5 offers new features that the company says improve knowledge management, ease integration with business applications and make the product easier to install.

"I think Verity is providing a generalized platform for customers [who] want to organize their content for effective delivery," said Geoffrey Bock, senior vice president with market research firm Patricia Seybold Group Inc. He noted that many organizations need help organizing and managing information.

Version 4.5 is geared toward such markets as publishing and pharmaceuticals. But a Verity spokesman noted that federal agencies also are evaluating the technology.

Earlier versions of K2 Enterprise appear in federal applications. The General Services Administration uses the product as part of its GSA Advantage e-commerce Web site. Verity's retrieval technology also was selected for use in the Air Force's MyAirForce portal.

Other federal customers include the Army, CIA and State Department. According to Verity executives, the government sector accounts for about 5 percent of the company's revenue.

Verity's latest offering broadly targets knowledge management applications. "What we are going after is better knowledge management and better return on assets," said Rajat Mukerjee, principal architect at Verity.

K2 Enterprise 4.5 provides tools designed to make it easier for customers to organize content. Thematic mapping, for example, enables customers to identify key themes in an organization's content. This feature then labels themes with names relevant to the users' context, finds connections between the themes and creates taxonomies. A taxonomy is a hierarchical category system — a directory of sorts — that helps users navigate unstructured data.

Mukerjee said thematic mapping "automatically generates a taxonomy based on your business data and what is relevant to your business."

Other knowledge management features include a LexisNexis Content Organizer, which enables organizations to import industry-specific taxonomies from the legal information and news service. Such content organization tools are intended to "jump-start" the creation of taxonomies, Mukerjee said.

And once taxonomies are created, users can simultaneously deploy and navigate multiple taxonomies using K2 Enterprise 4.5's relational taxonomy capability.

"Essentially, it means the ability to use two or [more] taxonomy filters in order to narrow down a...search query to a much smaller number of relevant documents," said Hadley Reynolds, research director with the Delphi Group, a market research firm following information retrieval software. Typically, a search deals with taxonomies one filter at a time.

K2 Enterprise 4.5 also includes a Gateway Developer Kit, which provides application program interfaces that extend Verity's search and classification technology to more application repositories.

The other significance of the developer kit is that it demonstrates that Verity is "being much more agnostic about development environments," Reynolds said. Customers can develop in Java or their favorite development environment, he noted. Historically, customers had to learn an information retrieval vendor's own development language.

With K2 Enterprise 4.5, Verity is "trying to raise the bar in terms of the integration of various information retrieval and knowledge supporting applications," Reynolds said. Organizations building a knowledge management system generally must patch together numerous applications, a process which Reynolds maintains can be long and tedious.

K2 Enterprise 4.5 pricing is based on a given customer's configuration. The company's average deal ranges in size from $170,000 to $200,000. But customers may be able to upgrade for free.

Supported platforms for K2 Enterprise 4.5 include Microsoft Corp.'s Windows NT/2000, Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Solaris 2.8, Hewlett-Packard Co.'s HP-UX 11.0, IBM Corp.'s AIX 4.3.3 and Red Hat Inc.'s Linux 7.1.

Moore is a freelance writer based in Syracuse, N.Y.

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At a glance

What's new with K2 Enterprise 4.5

* Thematic mapping — Speeds creation of taxonomies.

* LexisNexis Content Organizer — Imports industry-specific taxonomies.

* Relational taxonomies — Uses two or more taxonomies to narrow a search.

* Gateway Developer Kit — Permits integration with more applications.

* Auto initialization — Eases product installation.

RELATE LINKS

"Too much information" [Federal Computer Week, May 13, 2002]

"The search continues" [Federal Computer Week, March 18, 2002]

"Verity search leads to fed market" [Federal Computer Week, Feb. 18, 2002]

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