Catalog your Web-based information with Fulcrum Knowledge Network

Does your company maintain a Web site that is so large that your staff cannot find the information they need? Do you long for a way to automatically search and catalog Web sites and other information sources? Fulcrum Technologies' Fulcrum Knowledge Network lets you achieve these goals.

Fulcrum Knowledge Network is a collection of software programs that you can configure to collect and catalog information in such a way that your users can easily search for the answers they need. The software gleans information from many sources, including Web sites, Microsoft Exchange Server stores, Lotus Notes databases, file systems, and other document management systems.

The Fulcrum Knowledge Server is the core of the Fulcrum Knowledge Network. The Knowledge Server is a computer system that houses the Fulcrum Knowledge Center, a SQL Server database you create to store collected information. The Knowledge Server performs all the indexing, searching, and administration for the Fulcrum Knowledge Network. The Knowledge Server contains a series of Knowledge Activators--programs that mine information sources for data to populate the Knowledge Center.

After the Knowledge Server collects the data, several mechanisms exist to search the data and display the results in a usable format. These mechanisms include the Fulcrum FIND! client, a custom Windows client, and a Microsoft or Netscape Web browser. The Fulcrum FIND! client communicates directly with the Knowledge Server, whereas the Web browser communicates with an application you install on your intranet's Web server to service end users' requests. The FIND! client also integrates with Microsoft Outlook (available through the Tools Menu) for easy user access. The Web browser interface gives you the greatest flexibility in providing end users with search capabilities. The custom Windows client lets you build search capabilities into your inhouse applications using the Fulcrum Object Library, a series of objects you can use in your application to facilitate communication directly with the Knowledge Server.

Installing the software can require a great deal of preplanning, depending on how robust you intend to make the product's search and information providing environment. The Knowledge Server can become overloaded while performing the search and indexing services you need to manage the Knowledge Center. In some instances, Fulcrum recommends you distribute the product's workload over several servers. In heavily loaded environments, you can use one server as the Knowledge Server, a separate SQL Server as the Knowledge Center, and an Internet Information Server (IIS) host as the gateway for searches your user community performs.

I used two servers for my installation. On one server, a Micronics-based dual Pentium II system running Windows NT Server 4.0 and SQL Server 6.5, I installed the software and configured it as my main Knowledge Server. On my Digital Prioris HX590, also running NT Server 4.0, with IIS, I installed the remaining components of the product.

Installation proceeded smoothly, although because of the distributed nature of my installation, it took me an hour to complete the process. During installation, I had to provide answers to the usual questions, such as which components to install, where the Knowledge Center is located, and what database logon to use. I had to repeat the installation process for the WebFIND! component on my IIS system, and I had to make a manual adjustment to my Web server's startup document to redirect the home page to the WebFIND! application. The installation process is well documented in the product's installation notes.

After I installed Fulcrum Knowledge Network, I used the Fulcrum Knowledge Administrator to configure the product to index several data sources. Then I was able to use the WebFIND! application to perform a search and get my search results, including abstracts. Screen 1 shows an example of search results on knowledge management using the WebFIND! engine.

Fulcrum Knowledge Network is priced according to your configuration. A typical base configuration can mine for information on your file systems, groupware product, and Web sites. A more comprehensive installation--one that offers a full range of services and uses all Knowledge Activators available for the software--is more expensive. The company also offers volume discounts.

Fulcrum Knowledge Network
Contact:
Fulcrum Technologies * 613-238-1761
Web: http://www.fulcrum.com
Price: From $85 per user to $400 per user at the 100-user level
System Requirements: Windows NT Server 4.0 with Service Pack 3 or NT Server 3.51 with Service Pack 5, 200MHZ Pentium Pro CPU, 128MB of RAM (plus 16MB when installed on a Microsoft Exchange Server system), 192MB swap file