October 4, 2010 — One of the facts of classification and indexing is that one has to have access to the content. Most users of a system assume that any content in an organization is available in an electronic system. That assumption is incorrect. The reason is that certain systems use a proprietary file format and do not make exporting data a feature. In fact, even well known systems such as Lotus Notes and SAP R/3 data can be problematic to index.

The trick in gaining access to content in proprietary, mission-critical systems is what is variously described as a filter, a content connector or connector, or file conversion. Stated simply, without one of these key filters, the content in a third party system remains locked up and can be accessed only by logging into that system and accessing that proprietary system’s functions.

The somewhat esoteric world of connectors is now becoming of greater interest.

In a motion filed Monday August 9, 2010, i2 filed a complaint explained in “Media Advisory from i2.” The plaintiff, www.i2.co.uk, makes allegations related to i2’s intellectual property. You can access the legal documents via Scribd. i2 and Palantir are involved in content processing, data management, and various analytics processes. More about i2 is here. More about Palantir is here. Years ago I did some work for i2 and learned that the firm’s technologies were widely used in intelligence, law enforcement, and related market sectors. Palantir is more of a newcomer. Palantir received an infusion of $90 million in venture funding in 2010.

In the world of connector vendors, only Palantir has a filter to import i2’s content stored in the proprietary ANB file type. Navigate to the Palantir Web site at www.palantir.com and search for DevZone or click here.


If the data on this page is correct, which may not be the case, Palantir has had a connector that handles a file type that is somewhat unusual. i2, in my experience, was quite particular about keeping certain information under wraps. I learned this when I did a small project for the company’s former president, Mike Hunter, but that was four or five years ago. Careful management of data was a hallmark of i2 and a strong part of the firm’s culture when I interacted with the firm and a handful of its engineers.

Now that i2 and Palantir have embarked on a journey into the US judicial system, the future of connectors could be in the hands of a judge or jury. The decision may alter the landscape of the connector market. Companies like Autonomy, EntropySoft, and Oracle offer connectors. However, if the legal spat produces one of those interesting decisions, the freedom to reverse engineer a file type may become an issue.

If so, content that users want in a single system indexed with a common thesaurus and categorized under a single classification system may never arrive. The user will have to adapt to a world  in which different systems will have to accessed in order to retrieve needed information. Then the relevant information may have to be assembled manually.

Stay tuned.

Stephen E Arnold