Google Puts New Shine on Enterprise Search Appliance

Google on Wednesday launched the fifth version of its enterprise search appliance with more security, better internal search result relevance and a wider reach across enterprise content management (ECM) systems.

The Version 5.0 upgrades of the Google Search Appliance allow business managers to search across information silos using an enterprise connector framework that can search within existing ECM systems. The device works with systems including EMC Documentum, IBM FileNet, OpenText Livelink and Microsoft SharePoint.

“This framework extends the already sizable reach into 220 file formats, file shares, intranets, databases, applications and hosted services,” said Google.

The ability of the search appliance to “break silos and reach into more enterprise content” is vital for companies since the data being sought “often resides in separate repositories.”

Feeling Secure

Version 5.0 also features substantially improved capabilities for “reach, security and relevance,” the company said.

On the security front, the appliance now supports Microsoft Windows Integrated Authentication (WIA). It also provides secure crawling and serving of file system content and features increased performance in its Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML)-based Application Programming Interface (API) for authentication and authorization.

Google’s enterprise search products are far less known to the public than its dominating Web search engine and related applications. The company wants its business data search products to be as effective as its Web search engine, however, said Dave Girouard, Google’s vice president and general manager for enterprise.

“When we launched the first Google Search Appliance five years ago, we had a vision to make search inside of business as simple and effective as searching on Google.com,” said Girouard.

Combining Google’s expertise in search with more understanding and control for environments behind the firewall is helping companies keep pace with information, he added.

Innovation Buffet Table

Google also launched Google Enterprise Labs, which the company described as a site that will help companies improve their internal search efforts by giving them early access to innovations.

As examples of those innovations, Google cited “Search-as-you-Type,” which presents the searcher with suggestions and auto-complete queries as the person types. “Search-as-you-Type is ideal for directory lookup, glossary terms, and search suggestions,” said Google.

Another is “Do-it-Yourself KeyMatch,” which allows business managers to control search results so that certain information gets a higher ranking. As an example, Google said the system can be told to display the company CEO’s blog as the top result when people search for “CEO.”

Resources to Keep Pushing

Google has sold its search appliance to more than 10,000 companies during the past five years. Google is using its vast wealth and size to rapidly improve its enterprise search equipment, said Enterprise Strategy Group analyst Brian Babineau.

“One of the things to keep in mind is that Google has a lot of resources both financial and human capital at its beck and call,” Babineau told the E-Commerce Times. “They put their resources to work for an enterprise product that can be used to search multiple data sources inside the data center. With each version, they learned more and more about how enterprise information is used and leveraged and where their search technology can best be applied.”

Nevertheless, Google still has a way to go in terms of perception, Enderle Group Principal Analyst Rob Enderle told the E-Commerce Times.

“The problem for Google, and this in many ways mirrors similar problems for Netscape, is they aren’t set up or perceived to be an enterprise class vendor and there are other companies like Autonomy and Vivisimo who are already being used successfully,” Enderle said.

Google has “a strong pedigree” in search, but its advertising model for pricing “has no analog inside of corporations and while cheap is always attractive, most companies know that the costs related to a solution like this have little to do with the hardware and software, they have to do with the heavy lifting of getting the result to work and there is no such thing as a ‘generic enterprise,'” he noted.

Google might emerge a top dog in enterprise search “after years of pounding,” particularly since the company can afford to keep at it, Enderle said.

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