Google Boards the Enterprise

Company launches free search tool.

Google inc. last week launched its long-awaited enterprise desktop search product, an offering that beats rival Microsoft Corp. to the punch by more than a year.

The product, known as Google Desktop Search for the Enterprise, is modeled after a similar tool that Google has offered to the consumer marketplace for the past six months.

The enterprise tool can search for files and documents on a users hard drive, and it supports files on Windows 2000 or later systems.

Officials from Microsoft, in Redmond, Wash., have been showing off a new preview of "Longhorn" that includes a desktop search feature, but this next version of Windows isnt due until at least late next year, and it is not yet clear how deep the search functionality in Longhorn will go.

Google Desktop Search for the Enterprise goes beyond Googles consumer desktop search product to offer search of Lotus Notes 6.5 and later e-mail messages and Lotus Instant Messenger chat-session transcripts, as well as support for the encryption of data files using Microsofts encrypted file system technology, according to Google officials in Mountain View, Calif.

As with the consumer version of Google Desktop Search, the enterprise version can also search messages from Microsoft Outlook and any IMAP e-mail client, officials said. Google is offering a unified interface for the new Desktop Search offering, Google search appliances and

"Whether I go to the Web, intranet or desktop, Im able to search all of the various information sources," said Matt Glotzbach, Google Enterprise product manager. "Its a unified, simple way to get information."

In addition, the enterprise version of Google Desktop Search includes administrative controls so that administrators can restrict indexing of, or access to, files as well as block communications back to Googles server for automatic updates of the software.

Glotzbach said that Google has no plans to charge for Google Desktop Search for the Enterprise.

"We didnt want to create competition amongst ourselves," he said. "We didnt want to be having companies trying to rationalize why they should buy the enterprise version rather than just downloading the consumer version for free."

The initial release of Google Desktop Search for the Enterprise cannot search networked drives, but it can index documents that users access from those drives, Glotzbach said. He said Google is considering supporting searching of networked drives in a future release. This support could blur the lines between Desktop Search and Googles search appliances.

"For private data or user home directories that just the user or a small group of users access, then it makes sense for Desktop Search," Glotzbach said. "When access to the network drive expands for larger groups of users, then it makes sense to rely on our search appliances."

Ken Bisconti, vice president for Lotus Workplace Portal and collaboration products at IBM, said Notes has supported full-text search of messages for the past six to eight years but cannot search documents outside of the NSF (Notes Storage File) format.

"What weve witnessed in our customer base is that e-mail has evolved beyond messaging into a tool where you can manage your activities; store critical business communications; and help find, share and collaborate on the information you need to make critical business decisions," said Bisconti in Cambridge, Mass.

Bisconti said there are other possibilities for integration between Google and IBM technologies, including IBMs OmniFind search engine. However, he said IBM, in Armonk, N.Y., was not yet ready to announce any plans for such an integration. Bisconti said it was also too early to talk about integration of Google Desktop Search with Lotus Workplace files, but that, too, was a possibility down the road.

"Certainly its a logical extension as the Workplace client technology becomes more prevalent, but the majority of our end users are using Notes 6.5 and above, so thats the first target," Bisconti said.

In search of ...

Features of Googles Desktop Search for the Enterprise

* Searches files and documents on individual hard drives

* Can search Lotus Notes files and Lotus Instant Messenger transcripts

* Can search messages in Outlook and other IMAP clients