Google developing desktop search for enterprise market

Google Inc. is developing a desktop search tool designed for corporate use, several months after launching a similar tool for personal use that is free and still in test form. With this move, Google hopes to round out its desktop search push by addressing both the mass market and the workplace market.

“Our (current) desktop search product is a consumer downloadable beta,” said Dave Girouard, Google’s enterprise general manager. “We think desktop search in the enterprise is very important. There’s so much information there. So we’re working on an enterprise version of that product that you can expect will work with our other enterprise (search) products.”

On Thursday, Google announced an improved version of its enterprise Search Appliance and a new similar tool called Google Mini, which is simpler and less expensive and geared toward small and medium-size businesses. The Search Appliance can index and retrieve documents available via an HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) Web interface, relational database data via JDBC (Java Database Connectivity) and data in other repositories, such as enterprise business applications, content management software and legacy systems, via a “feeder” API mechanism. The Google Mini is limited to documents available via HTTP. Both products are designed for companies that want to provide a Google search engine so employees can search for data on internal systems and for visitors to search their external public Web sites.

Girouard declined to provide details about the new enterprise desktop search product in development, but an analyst said some features Google should build into the product are an ability to hook into various corporate repositories and strong access-control features to prevent users from viewing unauthorized documents.

Linking the desktop search tool with corporate repositories such as departmental LAN drives, intranets and document management systems is important because users increasingly don’t want to toggle among multiple search applications and engines, said Guy Creese, an analyst at Ballardvale Research. Along those lines, the tool should let users conduct Web searches as well, he said. “The holy grail is you enter query terms once and you search everything,” Creese said.

On the access-control front, Google should make sure the desktop search tool doesn’t even serve up links to documents the user isn’t authorized to view, he said. Even if the user gets a denial from the system after clicking on the link, the mere fact that the user is finding out about the existence of a forbidden document is a security breach, particularly when the document contains sensitive data, such as a pharmaceutical’s clinical trial data, Creese said.

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