Google Appliance goes Mini

Von Cathleen Moore

Web search titan Google Inc. on Thursday will unveil Google Mini, a new search appliance designed for small and midsize businesses, and an upgrade to its existing Google Search Appliance for larger organizations.

Google Mini leverages the same technology as the larger appliance but is limited in search capacity to 50,000 documents. The hardware and software appliance is sold exclusively online, priced at US$4,995, which is a fraction of the cost of the larger capacity appliance versions.

Companies of all sizes are having a harder time finding information on their internal intranets and external-facing Web sites than on the Web via search engines such as Google, said Matthew Glotzbach, business product manager at Google.

"It is much easier to find a fact on the Internet using Google versus finding last quarter"s sales number on the company intranet. And this is across all types of business from large to small companies," Glotzbach said. "The Google Mini is enterprise search tailored to smaller and medium size businesses."

Google also on Thursday introduced Version 4.2 of its Search Appliance, featuring support for more types of enterprise content. The new version adds native connection to enterprise databases, allowing the appliance to crawl content that lives in relational databases. This feature also lets the appliance conduct searches across structured and unstructured data, according to Glotzbach.

"One of the big missing pieces (in earlier Search Appliance versions) was accessing content from relational databases," he said.

Furthermore, Google added an integration API which lets IT managers feed legacy system content into the Search Appliance,

"Now with the feed API, any content in the enterprise can now be indexed," Glotzbach said.

Other features in Version 4.2 of the Search Appliance include support for x509 Client Certificates, security APIs for integrated into existing access control systems, and local language configuration.

One early user of the Google Mini, Dominican University, found the appliance was the right fit for its limited IT budget and user population size. The university wanted to find a full text search tool to organize the growing amounts of information on its intranet, according to Jackson Ratcliffe, director of IT at Dominican University.

"We are a small university and don"t have a huge budget for IT projects. And we have an intranet that has been growing organically and has a ton of content on it. The tree structure was big and complicated and it was hard to find things,"" Ratcliffe said.

The setup of the Mini was easy and it took only 30 minutes to fully index the university"s content, he said.

Now students and faculty can search full text for all things in the Dominican University intranet: forms, expense forms, meeting minutes, policies for faculty, internal phone directory, IT help desk instructions, support departments, marketing, health, and student life, Ratcliffe said.

"Google"s accuracy is fantastic," Ratcliffe said.