LexisNexis puts MarkLogic to work in big data makeover

LexisNexis (s REL) has pressed MarkLogic technology into service for its just-launched Lexis Advance legal data service. MarkLogic’s document storage, search and analytics technology replaces legacy home-built code, said Jerry Barton, the VP of global product development at LexisNexis.

The company, like many others in this era of big data, is updating its infrastructure to better handle a wealth of information from many sources — in this case a lot of XML documents as well as “screen scrapings” of other documents. Toward that end, it has rebuilt its infrastructure as a service-oriented architecture (SOA) that gives it flexibility in tool choice.

When LexisNexis started in the 1970s, there were not a lot of off-the-shelf search technologies, so it built its own search on the mainframe, Barton said. That has all changed in recent years with the advent of several quality search engines. “Some are better suited for some jobs than others. Our new SOA architecture means we can pick the right search engine for the right job,” Barton said.

LexisNexis uses HPCC for public records searches and still uses some FAST search, now owned by Microsoft (s MSFT), for some legal web searches, Barton said. HPCC is LexisNexis’ own technology for analyzing information in the intelligence and financial services industries.

For Lexis Advance, MarkLogic had an edge, because it comes with its own repository, whereas some other tools, including FAST, require a separate repository built on SQL Server or Oracle (s ORCL) databases. “Since the bulk of our content is XML, it made sense to use MarkLogic as the repository,” Barton said.

MarkLogic positions its offering as a true big data solution. “We like to view the world as XML so we convert a lot [of documents to that format] but we’re also great at storing binaries and video and we can index that with the metadata associated with it,” said Bill Vega, the VP of solutions marketing for MarkLogic, which is based in San Carlos, Calif.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user umjanedoan