Google adds, improves SharePoint support, to enterprise search

Google has also released a free tool to let employees vote for their favorite search engine

Google made some interesting additions to its enterprise search appliance to help it do a better job of indexing all of a company's important data, even if that data resides in, SharePoint or other document management systems. The company released new "connectors" that allow the Google Search Appliance to access data beyond the intranet and Internet.

Additionally, Google Enterprise Labs has released a tool, dubbed "Side-by-Side" that allows the search results from a Google system to be compared side-by-side against any other enterprise search tool. Then, employees get to vote on which results are better. Bloggers and the media, which includes me, will no doubt label this as another weapon in a Google-versus-Bing war. That may be true, but it's only fair to point out that this tool allows search results to be compared between two Google configurations, too, such as between its appliance and its service, Google Site Search.

While the comparison tool is interesting, it is the new and improved connectors for the GSA that will make enterprises that use this appliance happy. Connectors integrate data from all different kinds of file and content systems so an employee receives a single, unified search results page. Google released one new connector, for Salesforce data, and it revamped its four others. The original four connectors, for SharePoint, Documentum, LiveLink and FileNet, are included with its appliance. The new one is available via a separate download from the Enterprise Labs site.

The new-and-improved SharePoint connector now supports batch authorization and multiple site collection, and 64-bit Windows. Additionally, with a new feature in the connector called the Google Search Box for SharePoint, the GSA can power the search box within SharePoint.

To be clear, GSA isn't the only search option that connects to a variety of data sources. Microsoft's enterprise search products also offer connectors that work with its lineup: the freebie Search Server 2008 Express, the alternative not-free Search Server 2008, SharePoint Server 2007, and Microsoft's acquired, high-end FAST ESP. Some of Microsoft's connectors are based on the OpenSearch standard and others are specific to the FAST product.

Here's a Google-produced video that illustrates the Side-by-Side tool.

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