Google upgrades Search Appliance, aims for large enterprises

Version 7.0 includes improvements in relevance, speed and user interface

Google has released a new version of its Search Appliance with new and improved features intended to make the enterprise search device more useful in large enterprises.

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The Search Appliance, which is sold as a hardware device loaded with Google search software that is installed on customer premises, has historically been considered a good fit mostly for medium-size businesses that lack the money and in-house expertise needed for high-end enterprise search systems.

But with version 7.0 of the Search Appliance, Google is aiming higher, and seeking a stronger position against high-end rivals that in recent years have been acquired by larger vendors, including Autonomy, which was bought by Hewlett-Packard, and Fast Search & Transfer, which was acquired by Microsoft.

"We're doubling down on enterprise search," said Matthew Eichner, general manager of Global Enterprise Search at Google.

For starters, version 7.0's interface adapts to smartphones and tablets, which is increasingly important as enterprise users rely more and more on these mobile devices for accessing workplace documents, files and data.

Google also improved the product's query resolution speed as well as its results relevance algorithm, which now includes new signals that customize results for each user, the company said on Tuesday.

Version 7.0 also features improvements for dealing with multiple languages, in particular those whose grammar and syntax present special challenges for search engines, such as Chinese, German and Arabic, he said. In addition, the Search Appliance now has gained as a native feature the Google Translate technology, which will allow enterprises to translate content on the fly to more than 60 languages.

The product also can now be used as a search engine for the 2010 version of SharePoint, the collaboration server from Microsoft which is ubiquitous in enterprises where it's used for intranets, public websites, document and content management and workplace communities. For SharePoint, the Search Appliance provides features like query suggestions, clustering of results and identification of end user expertise.

Other new features in version 7.0 are assisted navigation for refining search results, document previews and the ability for users to add items to the index.

Juan Carlos Perez covers enterprise communication/collaboration suites, operating systems, browsers and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanCPerezIDG.

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