If any organization needs to make sense of unstructured data it's the government--especially agencies like the CIA and other intelligence groups that comb through a myriad of disparate information on an hourly basis.
Last week, In-Q-Tel, the technology arm of the CIA, invested in Lucid Imagination, which provides support, maintenance, and add-on software for Apache Lucene and Solr. According to Lucid, the Lucene/Solr technology is downloaded more than 9,000 times per day, and more than 4,000 organizations are using the software for enterprise search.
I've wondered aloud quite a few times as to whether or not open-source projects (and specifically Apache projects) can turn into businesses or if they are simply the cogs and wheels that make other products function better (aka the Oracle syndrome).
I probably would have argued that enterprise search would fall into one of those no-man's lands where the technology is important but not quite a standalone business. There has been a huge amount of venture capital investment in search but few big winners in the category.
But the investment from In-Q-Tel adds some credence to the value of the function as well as the technology in the respect that the government is actually using the software and not just making an investment as we see in the venture capital world. Lucene and Solr are "sufficiently complex" open-source products that require a commercial entity to support ongoing efforts once they are adopted. This gives Lucid a legitimate shot at building a business. … Read more