picture-13.pngNetwork Chemistry is throwing its resources into a new online search engine that scours technical data across a business’s internal networks and hardware devices, including computers and phones.

The Redwood City, Calif. company said the new strategy follows the sale of its wireless security business to Aruba Networks.

For example, an IT manager using the search engine will be able to see any employees improperly using their personal iPhones on the company wireless internet network — and then take measures to remove them.

The company uses the term “search engine” to describe how it searches and organize a company’s servers, routers, PC’s, printers, and other devices. This is not to be confused with search engines that comb web pages, documents in a system, or software source code.

Developers we know complain that many current security analysis tools generally don’t work well and are expensive. Other companies, such as Splunk, are also developing ways of searching IT systems. Splunk collects and searches log files showing what happens across a network.
Network Chemistry has yet to launch and prove itself, however: The beta version will be released in late summer, but people interested in the service can register to try it at www.projectwishbone.com.

The market size for IT operations management software was $11.3 billion in 2006, according to Gartner, which expects it to grow to $17.2 billion in 2011. De Haaff notes these numbers don’t include markets for wireless security features that Network Chemistry provides.

The company has been developing its expertise in IT search as a by-product of having spent years producing a broad range of other tools that gather data about systems. It started in 2002, making radio frequency appliances to check for “rogue devices” on a network — such as an outsider’s laptop connecting to a company’s WiFi. It has built a product line that includes ways to enforce system-wide policies and provide alerts when security is breached.

By comparison, the market for wireless security is estimated to be $100 million, and competitive, de Haaff tells us. Aruba will integrate Network Chemistry’s wireless products into its existing range of security and mobile infrastructure products.

Network Chemistry already has 500,000 individuals and organizations using software it has open-sourced to help IT departments maintain mobile security. The project has created what the company claims is the world’s largest collaborative device-classification index: Its Rogue Scanner system crawls and identifies devices on a local network. The information is then sent to a central database of devices on a server hosted and maintained by the company. While the database attempts to classify devices say, a rare model of Japanese phone found on eBay, users can access the database and change the classification. In some sense, it’s a Wikipedia for devices on local networks.

This community will be a natural place to grow its search business, the company hopes.

This is another example of “enterprise” software and services becoming consumerized, de Haaff says. Its search engine, while free because the company wants to grow as fast as possible, is also proprietary and will run off of its own servers. The company is trying to capture the market now and figure out how to monetize later. How Web 2.0-like! De Haaff admits to being influenced by the success of YouTube and Google without a proven plan for monetization.

Network Chemistry has received funding from government-backed investors, including the CIA’s In-Q-Tel venture arm as well as France Telecom’s Innovacom.