Microsoft announced this week that it had acquired Zoomix, an Israeli company that does database data cleansing. This is a great choice of an acquisition for Microsoft. Zoomix combines linguistic analysis with machine learning to classify, match and standardize complex corporate data. It is an application of "semantic" technology being applied to SQL Server.
Intelligent methods of data cleansing are always welcome in the database world, but with so much of Microsoft's energy going towards its online search and advertising endeavors, the acquisition of Zoomix could offer even more potential. The "semantic" Web has been called Web 3.0 by pundits who are into those kinds of labels. (Yes, guess that includes this blog, since the term Web 3.0 is being used here.) Technologies such as the self-matching intelligence engine by Zoomix could help Microsoft better understand linguistic search. If Microsoft is going to disrupt and eventually own the search business, Microsoft is going to need to grow beyond the me-too-ness of its online services (file sharing and more file sharing) and do search in a faster, better way. If the semantic Web works as advertised, it would be a sure-fire way of doing that.
For the enterprise, Zoomix will hopefully result in easier ways to create cleaner SQL databases (and who doesn't love a clean database?). If Microsoft is looking at this acquisition with an eye to more semantic/linguistic-based projects, the enterprise will benefit too. SharePoint is a popular product that could use semantic cleansing and search. Microsoft's SaaS services will all have a search component. As files proliferate in the cloud, they will be outside of of the IT department's ability to control, clean and search. Semantic technologies seem a good fit here, too.
That's a far reaching look at what Zoomix brings to the table and there are difficulties in using this technology in other ways. Microsoft is rather new at the acquisition integration game and to say it's not easy to integrate acquired technology into existing products is like saying it's not easy to lift a bus with one hand. It should help that Zoomix's development team will join the SQL Server team at Microsoft's research and development center in Israel, according to Zoomix. Any experience Microsoft can gain with linguistic technologies could pay big dividends for the company and its customers.