I was asked yesterday why we brought forward the Enterprise Search Europe conference to May 30/31 from its October timing last year. The answer is quite simple – there is so much new to discuss and yet old questions still need good answers.  The search landscape has changed significantly since October 2011, with major acquisitions by Oracle (Endeca), Lexmark (Isys-Search) and IBM (Vivisimo) and the gradual integration of Autonomy into HP. In addition in just over a year FAST ESP will no longer have main-stream support from Microsoft,.  Any acquisition tends to take a while to work through, and it is not surprising that companies seem to be increasingly interested in exploring open source initiatives.  The opening keynote this year is from Paul Doscher, CEO of Lucid Imagination, and I am sure he will have some interesting perspectives on the future of open source search.

Any list of major search companies has to include Google. Over the last few years Google has steadily been enhancing the ESA appliance product, and in terms of shipments I would not be surprised if Google has the largest installed base of any search vendor.  The closing keynote on the first day of the conference will be given by Matt Eichner, who is responsible for enterprise search products at Google. Matt is unlikely to be disclosing the ESA installed base but it is very unusual to have such a high-profile Google executive address a conference. Matt’s participation is both a reflection on the reputation of the conference and the commitment of Google to this market.

The closing keynote will be given by Stephen Arnold. If you have not seen Stephen in action then be prepared for verbal fireworks. Stephen tells it like it is, and he has a track record of being spot-on with his forecasts and insights, based on years of tracking the search industry and working on some very complex search projects in the USA and Europe.

It is not only Google that does not disclose installed base information. The entire industry is wrapped in secrecy.  This year Findwise have been undertaking a global survey of search implementation, and the results will be presented at both the Enterprise Search Summit and Enterprise Search Europe conferences. I’ve seen some the initial results but my lips are sealed until Kristian Norling takes to the stage immediately after Paul Doscher’s presentation.

Add in an introduction to search technology from Matt Mullen, a couple of very good panel sessions, almost all the main search vendors participating as sponsors and some of the best case studies we could find, and I’m sure that you will find two days in May well spent in listening and networking at the Hilton Olympia hotel.

Martin White