Federation Beyond OOTB SharePoint
Query Federation is an important tool in providing intranets and portals in several scenarios:
Data residency, information export, and contract restrictions may make centralized indexing impossible
Organizational control, varying requirements, or logistical needs may make separate search implementations necessary or desirable
External content such as subscription content, news sources, web search engines, or large-scale research repositories may not allow crawling, or it may be prohibitively expensive to crawl and index
These situations require a unified view but do not allow for all content to be in a single index. To address them, a capability to query against multiple indexes and collect the results is necessary.
The OOTB query federation capability (called Remote Result Sources) is a good mechanism, however, it does not provide what most users want: a single set of results and refiners across all systems.
The BA Insight Federator product addresses this and several important capabilities beyond OOTB query federation:
BA Insight extends the OOTB result source mechanism to provide a true unified view which extends beyond result blocks and local refiners to a fully interleaved result set. Refiner values are merged, and metadata can be augmented – including the creation of a source refiner which allows users to see which results come from which source, as well as the ability to drill down to a specific source or set of sources. A single result set has proven to be much more natural and effective than different tabs or lists in many scenarios. The more sources, the more important it is to have an interleaved result set.
These complement the OOTB result sources, which are sealed and limited to remote SharePoint, Exchange, and OpenSearch. BA Insight provides additional sources (called back-ends) which include full security and refiners and work cross-platform. These include FS4SP, FAST ESP, Google Drive, SharePoint 2010, and SharePoint 2013.
A back-end toolkit makes it possible to create new federated sources with all the same attributes as the native back-ends. This includes relevance scores, refiners, and full security, which goes far beyond the OpenSearch mechanism available OOTB.
Combining BA Insight’s Federator and Connectivity software, you will have a powerful facility for dynamic query and result transformations used by solution designers to craft some remarkable applications.
BA Insight’s Federator provides some unique and powerful capabilities for those looking to enhance the user experience. These can’t be done with the OOTB APIs:
- Dynamic Query Transformation brings the concept of Query Rules to the next level by allowing full control of query processing via plug-in processing stages. These transformations change and modify search queries to model the intent of the user, expand queries with external information, and affect relevance on-the-fly. All of this is done transparently to the UI, which simplifies development and administration.
- Dynamic Result Transformation brings the concept of Result Sources to the next level by allowing full control of result processing via plug-in processing stages. These transformations update the result set, mixing in dynamic data (such as adding real-time inventory levels, stock market values, or weather information with a result), and reorder or translate the values to deliver the best result for each user. This enables a wide range of search scenarios and content mashups.