Google bolsters search appliance

Google stepped up its enterprise search proposition today with the introduction of a hardware appliance designed for high...

Google stepped up its enterprise search proposition today with the introduction of a hardware appliance designed for high priority, heavy traffic environments.

The GB-5005 is a cluster of five of Google's previously released GB-1001 appliances, extending the search capabilities to three million documents and 150 queries per minute.

The GB-1001 and the higher-powered GB-8008 search appliances were rolled out in February.

"If you need something [for] high traffic and high uptime requirements, [the GB-5005] is designed for that. Everything is pre-clustered and load-balanced, and we make it easy in an appliance," said John Piscitello, product manager at Google.

The clustering approach is transparent to end-users and administrators, Piscitello said, appearing as a single machine but offering the benefits of automatic failover in case of disc failure and an improved capacity for uptime.

"Clustering of inexpensive hardware is something we've done on and we are now offering it in the appliance," he said. "You don't have to deal with the complexities of clustering but get the benefits."

In addition, the GB-5005 adds support for secure content including basic authentication and Microsoft Windows NT LAN Manager (NTLM) authentication protocol.

The new capabilities allow the appliance to crawl public and secure documents, authenticate users and display search results via access rights.

Other enhancements include increased content freshness achieved through a smaller index layer that is updated once a day or once every hour, combined with a larger layer updated less frequently, Piscitello said.

Google now has an offering meant to handle the scalability and reliability issues of really large Web sites, particularly externally facing sites, according to Laura Ramos, director of research at Giga Information Group.

Google maintains that a hardware/software combination results in higher reliability and faster deployment, and can replace the need for professional services. The company's "just plug in and go" mantra has appealed to customers in this tough economic client, according to Ramos.

"By and large, the results [trial corporate users] are getting are very similar to the type of results you'd expect from Customers are very happy with the relevance rankings, the look and feel, and the ability to get it running quickly and easily," Ramos said.

The capability to search secure content is an important requirement for enterprises. Google's approach is simple yet effective, according to Ramos.

"Google is not indexing the documents and keeping security controls inside the index and then worrying about synchronisation," she said. "Basically, when you do an inquiry they figure out whether the content is public or private, then they check whether or not you have the credentials to see the content."

Other vendors are also stepping up efforts in the search market.

InQuira today rolled out the latest versions of its industry-specific dictionaries for self-service corporate search. The dictionaries allow companies in the automotive, financial services, utilities, manufacturing, and high-tech industries to deploy self-service and search software applications for lowering customer support costs on the Web and in call centres.

Another search player, iPhrase, is poised to roll out an updated version of its One Step natural language search engine.

Version 4.0 of One Step will include a modular enhancement dubbed Interaction Advantage, which allows a search to go beyond a corporate Web site and access information from pre-determined sites that could offer related and useful information, according to iPhrase.

Meanwhile, guided navigation technology provider Endeca is ready to launch its Enterprise Search tool designed to combat the problem of information overload and too many search results returned per query.

Read more on IT risk management