Google on Wednesday announced the release of its long-awaited enterprise desktop search product, which it will offer to business customers as a free download.
The product, known as Google Desktop Search for the Enterprise, is modeled after a similar product that Google Inc. has offered to the consumer marketplace for the past six months. It is used to search for files and documents on a users hard drive. The software supports files on systems running Windows 2000 or later.
Google Desktop Search for the Enterprise goes beyond Googles consumer desktop search product to offer search of e-mail messages from Lotus Notes 6.5 and later and of transcripts from Lotus Instant Messaging chat sessions. It also includes support for encryption of data files using Microsoft Corp.s encrypted file system technology, according to Google officials in Mountain View, Calif.
Like the consumer version of Google Desktop Search, the enterprise version also can search messages from Microsoft Outlook and from any IMAP e-mail client, officials said.
Google is offering a unified interface for the new desktop-search offering, Google search appliances and Google.com.
“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.”
The enterprise version of Google Desktop Search also 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 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. We do believe that will continue to drive user loyalty, and end users will use Google.com and our various online services.”
Glotzbach said Google envisions IT administrators downloading the software, testing it and distributing it to their end users. End users need local admin rights to be able to install the enterprise version, he said.
The initial release of Google Desktop Search for the Enterprise cannot search networked drives, but it can index documents that users accessed from those drives, Glotzbach said. He said Google is considering supporting the search of networked drives in a future release. This 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 has attracted us to Google is the promise that with one single interface, you can search content in the inbox, chat transcripts, hard drives and content across the Internet,” Bisconti said in Cambridge, Mass.
“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,” Bisconti said.
Bisconti said there are other possibilities for integration between Google and IBM technologies, including with IBMs OmniFind search engine.
“OmniFind is quite different from an end user-focused tool, but the two are complementary—OmniFind focuses across the enterprise, and Google focuses on personal information,” Bisconti said.
But he said IBM is not ready to announce any plans yet for such an integration. Bisconti said it is also too early to talk about integration of Google Desktop Search with Lotus Workplace files, but that too is 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,” he said.