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Out-Googling Google, a la Krugle

Krugle has managed to beat Google at its own game. The company is doing well, in part, because it's done a good job of figuring out how to profit from open source.

Laura Merling

Krugle has been silent for the past year. I was actually worried that the company had fizzled out, but--as I learned from Laura Merling today--nothing could be further from the truth:

We released the Enterprise product as GA, with 16 substantial companies (most are Fortune 100 or Fortune 500) that are now using it. No one will give us our evaluation search appliance back! Even those who are just evaluating our product refuse to drop Krugle once they've started using it. They've been providing their use cases to us to help us improve our services.

Krugle is doing well, in part, because it's done a good job of figuring out how to profit from open source, even when it, in itself, is not open source:

We have enjoyed the benefit of open source in several ways. First, our customers have found us through our public site or the Krugle open-source code search engine. Second, one of the main reasons we see a lot of early companies go to an open-source model for sales and marketing is that they get individuals and developers to leverage and try things quickly and easily.

While Krugle is built on things like Nutch, Lucene, Apache, Antler, etc., we do not sell in the open-source model. We have benefited from it, however, because we have the luxury of the power shift that open source created. The power for decision making and buying has shifted to the developers, architects and midlevel managers. We are in some very large companies and have not once talked to a CIO! Developers have paved the way with their newfound power.

So what does Krugle actually do? Search. Niche search in a very big niche:

We're shipping a Krugle search appliance. The customer points it at their code (across an entire enterprise spanning multiple code repositories) and indexes everything, making it all easily searchable. Krugle is important when you want to search across multiple programming languages and code repositories. This makes enterprise development collaborative and permeable, rather than silo'd and opaque. Search helps developers find the right code/information "just in time," (PDF) making them much more productive.

One great example of this is Krugle's soon-to-be-announced partnership with IBM to power code search on DeveloperWorks, one of the more innovative developer sites in the industry. What does this mean? It means that IBM will enable code search for every general search on DeveloperWorks, which covers every product IBM has in its portfolio. In addition to being available as part of the general search capabilities within DeveloperWorks, IBM has plans to include a button on every article page that allows for code search on the sample code associated with the article.

What is the scope of the project? According to Merling, through this agreement Krugle becomes the first and preferred hosted search engine to have access to IBM code files in its index. A lot of code is involved: Krugle has indexed more than 1,400 articles on DeveloperWorks, producing more than 29,000 source files with more than 4 million lines of code. The index includes code in more than 35 languages including C, XML and Java.

Clearly, IBM is betting big on Krugle. That's a serious stamp of approval, handing over 4 million lines of code for indexing.

For me, it's causing me to take a close look at Krugle again. The company went quiet for a while, but apparently not because it wasn't busy. With its Fortune 500 deals and this partnership with IBM, Krugle is gaining momentum, which is curious since this should have been Google's game to lose. When was the last time you heard of Google Code Search? Exactly.

With Krugle showing the way to make money in this market, perhaps it will wake the sleeping Google giant. Maybe the giant will buy Krugle. Stranger things have happened...