Claims from Google’s competition that its enterprise search appliance is of limited use for context-based search results are nothing more than ‘noise and FUD [fear, uncertainty, and doubt],’ Dave Giroud, head of Google Applications and Enterprise told Computer Business Review.
Google Enterprise is currently doing battle for the hearts and minds of the enterprise IT department, selling its Google Search Appliance in competition with enterprise search software from the likes of Autonomy and Fast Search and Transfer, as well as to some extent with business intelligence software from Cognos, Business Objects, Oracle, IBM, and many more BI firms.
Search is a very simple idea, although the ranking algorithms that are at work in the background are incredibly complex, said Giroud. There are three things that IT departments and users want in the enterprise. They want the results fast; they want relevance, in that the results they are looking for are in the first few hits they get back; and they want security so it searches what they are allowed to and nothing else.
If we can get those right, said Giroud, and we believe we have, then we know that everything else the competition can sling at us is just noise and FUD.
Giroud said that in competitive tender situations, the customer chooses the Google Search Appliance 90% of the time. Users have very specific expectations, he said. They want to type a question and get accurate results, fast.
As for the argument from the content management players who say that simply layering search on top of unstructured, disorganized information does little to solve the broader problems of information management, Giroud said: I don’t think that there is no place for content management systems in the enterprise, but the average user does not want to go through 16 steps to get the information they want.
We are seeing some companies keeping all of their information in a large store and using Google Search to analyze it, Giroud said. But in other areas like legal, you may need much more content management system capabilities as well as search.
The content management system players want to be the unifying place to find data but it is too complex and heavyweight, he said. Search is such a simple, unifying thing, and we can also use [Google Search Appliance] to search for information in CMSs like EMC Documentum, Open Text LiveLink, IBM FileNet, and Microsoft SharePoint.
As for whether enterprise search from Google, for example, is competitive with more traditional business intelligence software from the likes of Cognos and Business Objects, Giroud said: again, there is a place for business intelligence and data warehousing but what we are saying is that search is a great way of getting data pushed out to a broader base of users.
BI vendors claim they have high market share but they are actually used by relatively few employees in each of their customers, Giroud said. Search is a fast front-end on top of many of those technologies that can be used by anyone who has ever used Google on the Internet.
In response to the argument from some search companies that ad-hoc queries are liable to generate too many hits, and be tricky to use to get the right data first time in comparison to searching for data that has previously been automatically tagged by a CMS or manually tagged by a user, Giroud said, Google Enterprise Search is content agnostic. So we can search tagged data or data that might never have been tagged. We know that tagging is not a very scalable mechanism for larger groups of users so although we can take advantage of them when available, we are not designed around them.
Google launched the Google Search Appliance in 2002, aiming to do for corporate intranets what Google had done for internet-based search. Today the company claims to have over 10,000 unique customers of the Google Search Appliance, with many of those having purchased more than one appliance.