It is no secret we here at Avalon are enamored with MarkLogic technology. Our consultants have regular discussions that involve topics like the best way to use Java code with XQuery or how to integrate HTML5 with WebSockets to create a multi-publisher capability for MarkLogic (and no, we do not use pocket-protectors or wear hats with propellers). Now I understand these are important topics that yield very cool applications but they don’t really resonate with a business user. The typical business user (IMHO) who is being introduced to MarkLogic sometimes has a hard time wrapping his or her head around what the heck it is. When I encounter this confusion I point them to a simple analogy:
I do love old-school SNL.
So how is this analogous to MarkLogic?… very simple. Business users typically understand technology on a 1 to 1 basis. They understand that the search engine is used for searching documents and the content management system is used to change content on their web site and the database is used to store, well… data. MarkLogic simply does not fit the 1 to 1 model in the way most business users have been trained to understand technology, it is a “disruptive technology”. MarkLogic is really a platform to build countless applications to leverage any unstructured content. So what does that mean? Think about all the content/”stuff” you have that is valuable but would not naturally be a fit to be managed in a spreadsheet/database (e.g. it would probably not make sense to put your meeting notes, videos, mp3s, family photos, or this blog into a spreadsheet/database). So lets take a look at some practical MarkLogic use case examples:
Publishing - This is clearly MarkLogic’s sweet spot. After all… who has more unstructured content than a publisher? Now publishers not only have a good way to store and manage their books/magazines/journals/etc. but they can now easily create content “mashups”. What is a content mashup? Think of a student being able to buy individual chapters (or paragraphs for that matter) across multiple books instead of wasting money on content that he/she doesn’t need.
The “S” word - If you go to the MarkLogic website, you will not (at least at the time of this blog post) see Search as one of the categories under their solutions tab. This is really too bad as MarkLogic is an extremely powerful search engine. For instance, we were engaged by a large Association recently that was already using MarkLogic for publishing. This Association realized the power of MarkLogic’s search capabilities and asked us to develop a roadmap for replacing their Lucene/Solr search implementation with MarkLogic (I called it Lucene bypass surgery). They not only saw the value of using MarkLogic for search but how they could reduce costs from collapsing a layer of infrastructure, reducing support and training costs, and eliminating risk from an overly complex system. If MarkLogic ever takes on the other search vendors head to head – watch out Endeca, Autonomy, Fast, etc., etc.
Web Content Management (WCM) - WCM on MarkLogic is simply a natural extension of how to leverage your content and software investment. Avalon has been working with MarkLogic on developing a simple WCM interface to abstract all of the technical mumbo jumbo and put a straight-forward WYSIWYG interface to manage a web site with content stored in MarkLogic. More info here: http://avalonconsult.com/solutions/tools/wcm_for_marklogic
If I told you I would have to kill you - Life would be much more simple for our security agencies if al-Queda and the Mexican drug cartels would establish data centers, we could just hack into them and know what they were up to. It seems the bad guys tend to shy away from structured data (can’t imagine why). Now I don’t claim to know the exact use case(s) of how the US “three letter agencies” use MarkLogic but it is obviously valuable to be able to manage and analyze a ton of unstructured “intel”.
This is just a small sample of the applications MarkLogic can power. Geospatial, mobile, and metadata applications are just a few others that deserve attention for a MarkLogic solution.
So for all you business users out there. Don’t stress when someone in your organization comes up to you and says “I have an idea for a product that will serve our (insert your unstructured content need here) and it might also work as a (insert your other unstructured content need here). MarkLogic is the “New Shimmer” of technology… it simply works well for multiple applications.