Oracle has shipped the first major upgrade to the standalone enterprise search software it debuted last year, emphasizing new links to third-party data sources and identity management systems.The company and its applications rivals, notably SAP, see significant revenue opportunities in selling products that allow customers to search securely across their corporate databases, applications, file servers, portals and other Internet sites. The vendors argue that traditional enterprise search software is often too expensive and complicated to use, while desktop search offerings aren\u2019t well enough integrated with user authentication systems to enable secure querying.Oracle Secure Enterprise Search (SES) 10g Release 10.1.8 is generally available Monday. In response to customer feedback on the initial version, which focused on searching data held in Oracle software, the new release also supports non-Oracle information sources, according to Greg Crider, senior director of product marketing at Oracle. The data sources include Microsoft\u2019s Exchange and SharePoint, IBM\u2019s Lotus Notes and FileNet, and EMC\u2019s Documentum.Oracle users also requested support for third-party directory servers, Crider said, so the new release has hooks into Microsoft\u2019s Active Directory, Novell\u2019s eDirectory, Sun Microsystems\u2019 Java System Directory Server and the open-source OpenLDAP identity-management directories.The new release of SES provides federated search capabilities through its Suggested Link feature to deliver real-time information as well as search results from any data source, Crider said. Federated search is the ability to send out a query to a number of distinct databases and then collect, merge and format the results to avoid duplication as much as possible.The Suggested Link feature in SES is compatible with the OneBox standard defined by Google, Crider said, so a query can be passed to any application supported by OneBox.Oracle also began a new partner program, Secure Search Initiative, to encourage independent software vendors and systems integrators to provide additional connectors into non-Oracle data sources, including user desktops and business intelligence repositories. Oracle will particularly look to partners to provide hooks into third-party data sources\u00a0that have already been highly customized, Crider said.At the same time, Oracle is both integrating and embedding SES into its own products, particularly its applications. Last week, the vendor officially launched new versions of all of its five application families, highlighting the search capabilities SES has made possible in its Siebel 8.0 CRM software.To date, there have been 5,000 downloads of SES from Oracle\u2019s website, Crider said. He didn\u2019t comment on how many customers have actually purchased SES. While SES is built on Oracle\u2019s 10g relational database, SAP is adopting a different approach with its Enterprise Search offering due out in the first half of this year. Drawing on in-memory capabilities, the SAP software will allow users to carry out queries on the fly without first having to pre-aggregate and store the information in a database.SES 10g Release 10.1.8 is priced from US$30,000 per CPU and runs on Linux, Windows and Unix operating systems.-China Martens, IDG News Service (Boston Bureau)Check out our CIO News Alerts and Tech Informer pages for more updated news coverage.