Matt Glotzbach, director of product management for Google, told me that both the Google Mini and its big brother General Search Appliance are here to stay and are not being cast aside for the company's new and improved hosted Google Site Search.
Currently, both the search appliances and Google's hosted search each have thousands of customers, with the appliances boasting much more due to having been around for the last seven years.
Even so, Glotzbach also said he anticipates that Google Site Search, which includes indexing for more content as well as more fine-grained controls for Webmasters, will eventually dwarf Google's on-premises enterprise search business in everything from small businesses to large enterprises.
Currently, he said Site Search customers are mostly small and midsize businesses, but he expects that to change with the addition of the new management capabilities in the software. These include data biasing to return the latest results, top results biasing and synonyms to help Webmasters expand the scope of search to include frequently searched terms.
"Until now, Site Search was better tailored for SMBs because it lacked the administrative controls that a larger business would require," Glotzbach said. "With this launch, we increased Site Search's appeal in medium to large businesses."
One factor, Glotzbach said, is the industrywide shift to the cloud. In the last year, he said, more and more Fortune 500 and Global 1000 companies are looking at moving to the cloud because it doesn't make sense to deploy hardware and software when they can host their operations in the cloud for lower cost and less maintenance.
As Google continues to add more services and search controls for businesses, I expect bigger businesses to pick up the platform.
However, some Fortune 500 businesses will always be too scared to host their search on Google, thanks to the security concerns the cloud model invokes, not to mention privacy concerns.
Of course, Glotzbach and Google would love it if every business moved from using Google search appliances to Site Search.
Google may get more money for the appliances in the short term -- $3,000 to $30,000 per appliance compared with $100 to $2,250 per year for searching 5,000 to 300,000 pages -- but in the long run anything hosted on Google will give the company more advertising opportunities.
Google gains insight into the way business site searchers look for products and services and can use this info to fine-tune its contextually targeted advertising. That is how Google ultimately butters its bread. That is, unless customers opt to turn that feature off in Site Search, which is their prerogative.
Meanwhile, Glotzbach said to expect Google to continue to build out its Google Search Appliances for search behind the firewall, particularly with a focus on searching the disparate content management systems on the market.