Google Search Appliance Grows Up and Reaches Out


In the ongoing battle for collaboration domination, Google (s GOOG) has struck yet another blow with its suite of new features for the Google Search Appliance. By giving users more searchable locations and more control over both search results and search architecture, Google is using its strengths to its advantage against a group of competitors that includes Microsoft (s MSFT), IBM (s IBM), Cisco (s CSCO) and VMware (s VMW).

The highlight of the new features probably is Cloud Connect, which lets users search for data within their various Google Apps at the same time they’re searching standard locations such as file systems or the web.  In terms of convenience, that capability seems tough to beat; I can’t count the number of times I’ve searched through email, the web and a CMS all to find someone’s name or a piece of information I knew I’d seen somewhere. If Google expands this feature even further, into third-party cloud services, it will be an even bigger deal. Every survey under the sun shows businesses more cloud services by the day, and anything that helps tie them all together will be a big hit.

Other features are worth noting too, particularly Dynamic Navigation and Active-Active Mirroring. According to Google, the former “allows users to drill down into search results based on search modifiers for their queries,” and the latter lets users spread search traffic over multiple Google Search Appliances to increase reliability. This is a strategy pulled from the database world, where active-active architectures ensure that consistency and reliability by having two database instances live and sharing the same information.

Although Google Search Appliance is not the company’s flagship enterprise service, it’s notable that the release coincides with Ray Ozzie’s departure from Microsoft (s msft). Google and Microsoft compete across pretty much all things cloud, and, as Om points out, Ozzie is generally considered the innovative brain behind Microsoft’s cloud efforts. The two happenings are hardly of the same importance level, of course, but losing Ozzie while Google continues to show it might have some enterprise chops, after all, still is not a good thing.

Image courtesy of Google.

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