What Is Federated Search?

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What Is Federated Search?

In today’s enterprise, content and associated data are separated across multiple repositories, including applications, databases, data warehouses, and data siloes. When searching for data across these sources, a traditional approach would be to move the data to a new single repository for re-indexing. This approach is often expensive and creates new security risks.

Users would prefer a solution that can find a specific piece of information without having to search through dozens of applications, databases, and various silos one by one. A secure and cost-effective approach is to leverage federation.

What is a Federated Search Engine?

Federated search is a technique used to simultaneously search multiple data sources, data warehouses, etc. A federated search engine is a powerful tool that lets you search across multiple databases, websites, chats, internal articles, or information systems all at once, using just one query.

The Inner Workings of Federated Search

The inner workings of federated search lie in its ability to talk to different data sources, each with its language and rules, and ask them all the same question simultaneously.

The process looks something like:

  • You Ask: You type in your search query like in a search engine.
  • It Searches Different Applications at Once: The federated search system then uses search provider configuration (in the case of Swirl) and then talks to different indexes and data sources to fetch results from them.
  • Databases Respond: Each database searches its records and returns what it finds.
  • Results Are Gathered: The federated search system collects all these responses, sorts them out, and removes duplicates.
  • You Get Answers: You’re presented with a consolidated list of results from all the queried sources.

Federated Search Diagram

The process looks something like this:

Why is Federated Search a Big Deal?

Federated search is a highly convenient method of searching multiple databases, websites, chats, internal articles, and repositories simultaneously. It is a game-changer for several reasons:

  • It saves time as you no longer need to search through multiple databases one by one.
  • It provides comprehensive results by giving you a bird’s-eye view of all available information, ensuring that you get all the valuable data.
  • It enables discovery as it can reveal related information that you might not have thought to search for, sparking new ideas or solutions.
  • It improves efficiency, especially for businesses and organizations, by providing quicker access to information, leading to faster decision-making and increased productivity.

The Future of Federated Search

As we continue to generate more data, the importance of federated search will only grow. Technological advances, particularly in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing, are set to enhance federated search systems, making them even more powerful and intuitive.

Federated Search for your Enterprise: Swirl

Swirl is a federated search engine designed for enterprises. It combines open-source flexibility with advanced AI features to provide a unified search experience. Best in class federated search solutions like Swirl normalize relevancy from the disparate sources to bring the best results to the top of the result list.

Unlike traditional search engines, Swirl can search across various data sources, including databases, cloud services, and enterprise systems like Microsoft 365 and Jira. It uses Large Language Models (LLMs) like ChatGPT to rank results intelligently, leading to more precise and relevant information. This AI integration makes Swirl a valuable tool for businesses navigating large amounts of data.