Google brings universal search to Search Appliance

Google plans to upgrade its Search Appliance with native support for enterprise content management systems such as EMC Documentum, IBM FileNet, Open Text LiveLink and Microsoft SharePoint.

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Google plans to upgrade its Search Appliance with native support for enterprise content management systems such as EMC Documentum, IBM FileNet, Open Text LiveLink and Microsoft SharePoint.

Support for those systems will be provided via "connector" modules included with this enterprise search device's Version 5.0 software, which existing customers will be able to download for free by next week.

The modules were built on an open source framework that is new in Version 5.0 and that can be used by customers and other vendors to create other native ECM connector modules for the Search Appliance.

This complements already existing native support for enterprise databases and enterprise applications in the Search Appliance, said Nitin Mangtani, lead product manager for search in the Google Enterprise division.

With the ECM framework and modules, Google is introducing in the Search Appliance the concept of universal search, which refers to a search engines ability to merge items from a broad variety of data repositories in a single results list.

In the Search Appliance, a computer with search engine software, this will be manifested by its ability to return links to files and web pages from intranets, on-premise and hosted business applications, corporate directories, public sites and, now, ECM systems.

Google, which generates most of its revenue from advertising delivered via its consumer oriented search engines and a network of third party websites, also makes enterprise products meant for use by organisations in workplaces.

The Search Appliance, which is one such enterprise product, can be used by organisations to index a wide variety of files and documents in their intranets and corporate servers, and make them searchable by authorised employees, clients and partners.

As such, the Search Appliance competes against other enterprise search products from companies like Autonomy, Vivisimo and Fast Search & Transfer.

In this market the Search Appliance seems mostly used for simpler implementations focusing on a single data repository or file system, while complex projects often go to rivals, according to Forrester Research analyst Matt Brown.

But by delivering significant enhancements in version 5.0 at no extra charge, Google boosts its strategy for attracting customers with a product that is generally easier to use and install, as well as less expensive than its competitors, he explained.

"Version 5.0 goes to Google's continued efforts to commoditise the search function in enterprises," Brown said.

Version 5.0 will also include security enhancements like support for Windows Integrated Authentication (WIA) and improved performance in its Security Assertion Markup Language-based API for authentication and authorisation.

In addition to the upgrade, Google also plans to launch Google Enterprise Labs, a site where the company will provide "early access" to enterprise search innovations.

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