Oracle has shipped the first major upgrade to the stand-alone enterprise search software it launched last year, emphasising new links to third-party data sources and identity management systems.

Oracle Secure Enterprise Search (SES) 10g Release 10.1.8 will target information that is being held in non-Oracle systems, according to Greg Crider, senior director of product marketing at Oracle. These data sources include Microsoft's Exchange and SharePoint, IBM's Lotus Notes and FileNet, and EMC's Documentum.

Oracle users also requested support for third-party directory servers, Crider said, so the new release has hooks into Microsoft's Active Directory, Novell's eDirectory, Sun Microsystems's Java System Directory Server and the open-source OpenLDAP identity management directories.

The new release of SES provides federated search capabilities through its Suggested Link feature to deliver real-time information as well as search results from any data source, Crider said. Federated search is the ability to send out a query to a number of distinct databases and then collect, merge and format the results to avoid duplication as much as possible.

The Suggested Link feature in SES is compatible with the OneBox standard defined by Google, Crider said, so a query can be passed to any application supported by OneBox.

The company and its applications rivals, notably SAP, see significant revenue opportunities in selling products that allow customers to search securely across their corporate databases, applications, file servers, portals and other Internet sites. The vendors argue that traditional enterprise search software is often too expensive and complicated to use, while desktop search offerings aren't well enough integrated with user authentication systems to enable secure querying.

Oracle also begun a new partner program, Secure Search Initiative, to encourage independent software vendors and systems integrators to provide additional connectors into non-Oracle data sources, including user desktops and business intelligence repositories. Oracle will particularly look to partners to provide hooks into third-party data sources which have already been highly customised, Crider said.

At the same time, Oracle is both integrating and embedding SES into its own products, particularly its applications. Last week, the vendor officially launched new versions of all of its five applications families, highlighting the search capabilities SES has made possible in its Siebel 8.0 customer relationship management (CRM) software.

While SES is built on Oracle's 10g relational database, SAP is adopting a different approach with its Enterprise Search offering due out in the first half of this year. Drawing on in-memory capabilities, the SAP software will allow users to carry out queries on the fly without first having to pre-aggregate and store the information in a database.

SES 10g Release 10.1.8 is priced from US$30,000 per central processor unit (CPU) and runs on Linux, Windows and Unix operating systems.

Original story by IDG news service