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Grid moving into SOA space

BEA System's new AquaLogic Interaction Grid Search ties in with it its SOA portal products, looking to devote on-demand computing resources to large enterprise integration projects.

BEA Systems Inc. today announced the release of new Web services and SOA development tools within it AquaLogic User Interaction (ALUI) product line, including AquaLogic Interaction Grid Search.

We have Boeing, Aflac and Exxon Mobile who are really interested in Grid capability for their portal search.
Christine Wan
Director of Product MarketingBEA Systems Inc.

The grid search technology is a new product designed to speed end user document searches at portal Web applications by moving indexes onto multiple low cost servers, said Christine Wan, director of product marketing, BEA. The grid product is design to handle searches of millions of documents by a portal end user.

She said BEA is finding grid technology is being used by larger corporations and organizations, which now have millions of documents that can be accessed via a Web portal and need the speed and failover capabilities multiple servers provide.

Asked what organizations would find the grid approach most useful, Wan said: "It ultimately depends on the portal deployment and the number of documents a customer is trying to index within their portal deployment. As a result it usually tends to be larger companies. We have Boeing, Aflac and Exxon Mobile who are really interested in Grid capability for their portal search. So it tends to be larger organizations with high volume of users and high volume of documents, many, many content repositories that they're indexing."

However, she said adoption of grid technology appears to be cross-industry, including now only financial services, which was an early adopter, but also manufacturing, insurance and energy companies. She said the grid search product was developed in response to demands from BEA's larger customers based largely on the growing size of portal applications.

"We have customers with mature portal deployments moving from hundreds of thousands to millions of documents," Wan said. "To support that kind of load, especially around the search area, we re-architected our search technology to allow the clustering or partitioning of the index, splitting your index on multiple servers."

The grid search product also includes administrative tools designed to help IT departments manage the move complex server operations.

"When you start to add multiple servers, the administration and management of your infrastructure becomes more complicated," Wan explained. "So we're also providing administration and management tools – GUI based as well as command line based – to give IT administrators the most flexibility."

Performance tools monitor the grid to make sure it can handle the searches. Fail over capability allows IT to replicate the entire index across two servers. "So you have 100 percent replication of the index," Wan explained. "If server one goes down, server two has the full index replicated."

Cost savings remains one of the major attractions of grid technology along with scalability. With the BEA grid search technology, the index for stored documents can be split up and run on multiple servers. For example, 50 percent of the index can be placed on one server and the other 50 percent on another server.

"The index can be partitioned across multiple servers," Wan said "This helps to support deployments that have millions of documents. It also helps drive down the total cost of ownership for their portal. Some customers have been moving toward those high end 16-way Unix boxes to run their search engines. Being able to run in a grid environment, you can start to employ lower cost commodity hardware to run your search."

For more information
BEA buys Flashline repository for AquaLogic SOA suite

BEA re-tailors Tuxedo to get legacy apps into SOA party

For the end user, whether internal corporate knowledge workers or a company's customers entering the portal from a Web browser, the switch to grid may go unnoticed except for enhanced speed for searches, Wan said.

"From an end user's perspective it's a seamless transition for them," she said. "They continue to go to the portal and execute their keyword searches. What they'll notice is searches are returned more quickly. They'll be able to search among many more documents than they used to. For the end user, it's a usability and performance benefit."

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