Magnifi Enterprise Server 2.0

Organize and search your Web-based content

With so many Web sites around, how can you keep track of the information they contain? On your intranet alone, you have hundreds of common files that users can access, but maintaining an index is nearly impossible. The solution is Magnifi Enterprise Server 2.0, a Web-based data collection and indexing utility.

Magnifi Enterprise Server is ideally suited for managing unstructured data (video, audio, presentations, illustrations, collateral documents, etc.) within marketing departments or other work groups that use media-rich data. Magnifi Enterprise Server is a powerful tool that lets you index the contents of Web sites and your local intranet. Magnifi collects and indexes data and makes its search results available locally, so users don't have to search each site. Magnifi saves you hundreds of hours if you perform a lot of Internet research.

This tool includes several administration components. The first component is the MediaAdmin program, the GUI you use to tell the Magnifi server which intranet file systems and Internet Web sites you want to index. MediaAdmin lets you configure the types of files you want to index, the information you want to exclude, and how often you want to update your database of collected information.

The software indexes many different media file types (with common categories of file types combined into logical MediaBlocks). Currently, Magnifi supports five different MediaBlocks and offers additional MediaBlocks for purchase. The Basic Formats Block lets you index HTML text, .gif images, and .jpeg images. The Stored AV Media Formats Block indexes formats used for audio and visual media sources (e.g., animations, MIDI). The Streaming AV Media Formats Block lets you index realtime formats, such as streaming video and sound. The Office Formats Block indexes formats for office documents, presentations, and spreadsheets, and the Publishing Formats Block indexes desktop publishing formats.

Using the configuration information you specify, the MediaCrawler scanning program scans local intranet file systems and remote Web sites. MediaCrawler feeds the collected information into the MediaParser component, which sorts and files the information into categories and feeds the output into the MediaUpdate component. MediaUpdate updates the MediaIndex, or information databases.

From an end-user perspective, Magnifi Enterprise Server contains two components: the search engine and the interface templates for displaying your search results. Users can perform a simple search in which they choose the video, sound, images, animation, text, document, spreadsheet, and presentation media types to search. Or a user can perform a power search, which expands the search capabilities for each media type. Magnifi has five standard formats, or templates, to present search results: Compact, Detailed, Media Previews Only, Text List, and Two Column.

Setting up and configuring Magnifi is complex, but it's not difficult for an experienced systems administrator. The package requires Windows NT 4.0 with Service Pack 3 (SP3) and a Web server. The vendor recommends at least a 150MHz Pentium system with 128MB of RAM. Ideally, you should run several systems: one to perform searches and another to perform administration and data collection. I installed the software on my Micronics-based dual-Pentium II server running NT 4.0 with Internet Information Server (IIS).

After I installed the software, I needed to complete several postinstallation steps. First, I created two Web server aliases: one for the MediaCrawler folders and another for the MediaSearch folders. I configured IIS to recognize the Common Gateway Interface (CGI) scripts that MediaCrawler and MediaSearch use. Then I told the product what file systems and Web sites to search. I completed this last step via the MediaAdmin interface, which is a Web-based administration program. Screen 1 shows how I added Windows NT Magazine's Web site to my index. Finally, I started the indexing process to populate the MediaIndex. After Magnifi finished indexing, I was able to search and retrieve information from the MediaIndex.

Magnifi is licensed on a per server basis, and all MediaBlocks are included with the base server. For large companies, the product's price is a small investment for the potential productivity savings. You can download a trial version from Magnifi's Web site.

Magnifi enterprise solutions address core functions of marketing departments, including brand asset management, campaign management, and business intelligence. Magnifi is currently using the core indexing technology to develop integrated solutions and applications for marketing departments. Enterprise Server's core functionality will become part of the next generation server that enables integration of virtually all unstructured marketing information with a common database foundation.

Magnifi Enterprise Server 2.0
Contact: Magnifi * 408-863-3804
Price: $20K plus additional per-user fees
System Requirements: Varies depending on configuration.
Base configuration: Pentium 166+, 128MB of RAM, Windows NT 4.0, Web server
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