Network infrastructure software developer Inktomi has selected an Ottawa firm’s technology to optimize its enterprise search engine for customers.

The Foster City, Calif.-based company has struck an alliance with Watchfire Corp., a provider of automated Web site management software and services, to help enterprise companies optimize content within their networks across corporate intranets, extranets and Web sites. Customers will be able to use Watchfire’s metadata software to get better results from Inktomi’s search engine technology.

Watchfire was founded about five years ago ands its flagship software began as a simple link checker for Web sites that were at the time quite small. “Sites have obviously exploded over the last four years and have become mission critical,” said David Grant, Watchfire product manager.

In a typical enterprise, Watchfire’s agent sits on server monitoring all of the elements of a company’s Web site, intranet or extranet. Grant said that in some cases companies may manage these different areas separately. The agent ensures that all “assets” of a site — whether it be images or flash documents — are functioning properly. The alliance with Inktomi is designed to guarantee that the appropriate document comes to the top when a user searches for a particular topic. “The Inktomi search element is what brought us together,” said Grant.

The agent returns Web-based reports with the appropriate detail to the appropriate person, which includes alerts of problems and activity reports of a company’s various Web sites. “They’re very actionable reports,” said Grant. “At the developer end we can get a lot more detail.” Grant said Watchfire is seeing demand for the product from companies with large Web properties, both internal and external.

Watchfire’s technology can also help an enterprise format data with the correct meta data so that users get the information they’re looking for from their search query, said Grant. “Search engines need clues or hints as to what the page is about, and as an end user, you want to get the best result back.”

Watchfire’s Enterprise Solution can be optimized for other search engines, “but Inktomi is our official partner.”

Louis Columbus, an analyst with Boston-based AMR Research, said the partnership with Watchfire will bring new opportunities for Inktomi. “It looks like the products fit together well and meets a specific need.”

He said Watchfire’s solution is particularly useful for companies amalgamating different Web properties borne of merger and acquisition activity, as well as those becoming more global in scope.

Ottawa’s March Networks, an existing Watchfire customer, is one company that’s amassing Web documents through mergers and acquisitions. “The frequency of acquisitions has been increasing,” according to Rob Mitchell, manager of Web services, and reconciling of the myriad digital content is a daunting task. “We had different content sources out there.”

Most of March Networks’ acquisitions have taken place since January and have included the integration of some content-heavy sites, said Mitchell. “The biggest challenge is decided what content to integrate where.” Building the site is actually the easier part, he said. “The technical challenges making sure what we reproduce is stable and offers a positive online experience.”

Mitchell said Watchfire’s Enterprise Solution has proven its value. “I really like the ease of use and performance I get out of it.”

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