Also launched, Google Enterprise Labs, where enterprise customers can download new experimental features for the Search Appliances and Google Mini systems. It launches with a search-as-you-type application that can be applied to any text field that queries the Appliance and shows rich preview, complete with thumbnails and category grouping. Also, it has Do-it-Yourself Keymatches, which lets users add smart answers to the top of search results, and Parametric Search, which accesses your metadata to provide seperate sidebar navigation through that data.
Google has handed over production of the Google Search Appliance, its only real hardware product, to Dell. The Search Appliance, which attaches to corporate networks to enable Google-powered internal search, has been a pretty good product for Google, but didn’t fit with the fact that the company had little experience with hardware, and was too expensive compared with similar products (including free software from Yahoo).
With Dell taking over, a company with more expertise in manufacturing can handle that end, while Google does what it does best, and handle the software side of things. Dell can market the search appliance along with its server products, which probably makes it a better sale than from Google’s own website. Google could use the help, since by its own admission, its only sold 9,000 of them.
Google has added some new abilities to Google Mini, the smaller, cheaper version of its Search Appliance, giving it many features that have been added to the big Google Search Appliance. Minis now recognize access settings from Windows NT LAN Manager, Active Directory, Lightweight Directory Access Protocol directories and in HTTP Basic schemes for online transactions.
OneBox for Search Appliances has alos been added, letting owners create OneBoxes to be shown above search results to help on certain types of queries.
Meanwhile, a major search improvement is the OneBox feature, which lets the engine identify the intent of certain queries and compile and present a digest of data at the top of the search results list that may answer the user’s questions, saving them from having to click on search results. OneBox can be configured to compile human resources data, sales transaction details and employee contact and calendar information, for example.
Mini also now integrates with Google Analytics, including tracking searches made on the box, integrates with Google Sitemaps, and allows searching by number ranges (including dates, times or prices).
IT World suggest that Google is concerned that Yahoo/IBM’s OmiFind service, which is free and does much of what Google’s search appliances do, without the need for specialized hardware. OmniFind can index up to 500,000 documents, while the Mini can only do 50,000 in the $1,995 configuration, up to 300,000 in the $8,995 configuration. Google needs to at least think about releasing Search Appliance as an operating system.
IBM and Yahoo have announced an enterprise search product designed to compete with Google’s Mini Search Appliance, with one huge distinction: IBM/Yahoo’s solution is completely free. IBM OmniFind Yahoo Edition, powered by IBM’s enterprise search with a Yahoo interface and Yahoo web search, can index up to 500,000 documents and more than 200 file types. The UI output can be customized and outputted in multiple formats for embedding withing corporate websites.
It looks like a very powerful product, and the price ($0) is far too tempting for many to ignore. I could see a lot of midrange internet companies powering their internal and external search with this, and it exposes a hole in Google’s product line. While the Google Mini does sell, a lot of companies would probably prefer to just handle the whole thing in software, controlling the hardware used by their servers.
How can Google compete with free? With free, of course! Hopefully, Google’s prepared for this eventuality, and has a Google Search Appliance Software Suite in development. Release a free Google enterprise software search product, and have it promote the Google Mini and Google Search Appliance. Let companies get tied to the Google software product, while letting them know that an even better experience awaits them if they upgrade to the hardware product.
I’m tempted to install the IBM/Yahoo product on my server. It sounds great. With no comparable Google product, Yahoo’s blown things wide open.
As a part of its massive deal with Dell, the computer manufacturer will be supplying Google with servers, which Google will then sell to corporate customers. This will be the next generation of Google search appliance, bearing Dell hardware but the Google name and software (and yellow swiss cheese design).
Dell spokesperson Jess Blackburn said the products are based on the company’s server platform but will feature Google-branded logos. The systems will be sold to Google’s corporate clients as the Google Search Appliance.
“These would in effect be Google products,” Blackburn said. “Nothing about the server would make you think it’s a Dell platform.”
Dell currently sells its PowerEdge 850 servers for as little as $699 with a 2.66 GHz Celeron D, 512 MB of RAM, a 3-year basic warranty and onsite service, 80 GB of hard drive space and a 24X CD drive. Add on whatever you think the search appliance system is worth, and you have the idea of how cheap a search appliance could get on Dell hardware. The cheapest Google Mini is currently $1,995, while the full-on search appliance starts at $30,000.
Of course, god only knows how much the “cheesebox” stylings add to the price…