Google Ferrets Out Enterprise Potential

Although the perplexing field of enterprise search has seen entrants come and go, Google execs say they're intent on providing "unified, simple search to all of the content in a given company."

Enterprise customers who are turning to Google for Web searches can expect Google to be turning to them this year.

Fresh from its $1.7 billion public offering, Google Inc. plans to tackle the enterprise by expanding the features in the Google Search Appliance and hiring more enterprise-focused engineers and sales and marketing employees, Dave Girouard, the companys enterprise general manager, said in a recent interview with

As part of the push, Google on Tuesday launched the search appliance overseas for the United Kingdom and Europe and said organizations such as the British Library and the United Nations are using the product.

"Theres a serious search problem in the enterprise that has yet to be solved, and we think we probably have the best chance to solve that problem," Girouard said.

Google has offered its search appliance since 2002 as a way for companies, universities and organizations to use its Web search technology for indexing and finding documents on their own Web sites and intranets. In June, Google unveiled its first major update of the appliance, quintupling the indexing capacity, adding a continuous crawl and speeding query performance.

/zimages/1/28571.gifClick here to read more about Googles earlier enterprise expansion.

So far, though, the appliance has remained relegated to Web-enabled data sitting on Web servers. That is expected to change over the course of the next year as Google looks to dig deeper into enterprise data, Girouard said.

"Our goal over the next year is to have the broadest reach of content in terms of content we can index in the search, and provide unified, simple search to all of the content in a given company," Girouard said. "Today, a lot of that content is siloed and is not accessible."

While Girouard wouldnt provide details on what Google would next support for the enterprise, he did point to data from business applications such as CRM (customer relationship management), enterprise databases, file servers and PC desktops as possibilities. The appliance already supports about 250 popular file types.

Google earlier this month added some desktop integration into the appliance. It announced an updated Google Deskbar that supports the appliance, so users can conduct internal searches through a desktop query box.

The Mountain View, Calif., company last week unveiled a consumer product for searching files, e-mails, chat sessions and Web history on hard drives and combining it with its Web search. Officials have yet to say how or if Google Desktop Search would be built into its enterprise search.

Compared with its Web search efforts, the enterprise remains a small part of Googles business. In 2003, revenue from licensing and other non-advertising sources, largely from the appliance, accounted for about 5 percent of Googles $961.9 million in revenue, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings.

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