Google searches for a home in corporate data management

Google has teamed up with BearingPoint to make search a more relevant tool for businesses and allow enterprise data to be as accessible as Internet pages.

Google’s Enterprise division has been around for a while, but they became serious about going after new business last fall when they started a partner program, said Chris Weitz, managing director of BearingPoint’s search solutions practice. BearingPoint is the largest of those partners and only officially revealed this week that it will actively be involved in Google Enterprise integration projects.

BearingPoint is working with the Google Search Appliance – which is essentially “Google.com in a box,” said Weitz – and will be customizing it for use in specific vertical markets including pharmaceuticals, banking, brokerage, technology and aerospace.

BearingPoint “would be able to build vertical and specific enterprise applications using the GSA as a platform through their APIs and XML feeds,” said Weitz.

“We can extend the Google Search Appliance into different areas where the Google search engine cannot crawl . . . such as certain databases, document management systems, etc.,” he said.

The GSA would be able to work with several applications already in many enterprises, including Documentum, Oracle, PeopleSoft and SAP, he said. To the employee using the GSA, the results look similar to those they might see in an Internet search generated by Google.com.

“We think companies ought to have 90-plus per cent of their information searchable and accessible through a single search box, much akin to the way Google works on the Web,” said Dave Girouard, general manager of Google Enterprise.

Google is attempting to cash in on its reputation as a starting point for a user session on the public Internet, he said. “In the corporate world, search can also be the entry point.”

GSA could be a way for corporations to determine how effective they are at disseminating data or information, added Girouard. If the same search term is used over and over by employees but generates few results, managers may want to address why that’s the case. GSA may also be able to unearth data that has become buried or lost in certain databases or applications, said Girouard.

Plug-ins important
The degree to which GSA is able to accomplish those tasks “depends on the plug-ins that Google and BearingPoint are building,” said Warren Shiau, analyst with the Toronto-based Strategic Counsel. “It’s the same playing field for everyone. It depends on how well they have hooks into that data.”

Shiau said Google’s Enterprise business didn’t generate much interest until now because it didn’t have an implementation arm. But it should prove more popular with BearingPoint as a partner.

Weitz said that GSA isn’t designed to supplant existing data mining or business intelligence tools. But “people with these deep and complex software packages are going to have a lot of competitive pressure,” he said. “Rather than expensive or time-consuming or lengthy project implementations, people are starting to use Google. It’s considerably less traumatic to use this in the enterprise.”

At the moment, GSA is more of an adjunct to enterprise software, said Girouard. “I don’t see it as a replacement for business intelligence – more like a front door.”

The Google Search Appliance starts at US$30,000 for search across half-a-million documents and can scale to 15 million. A small business alternative called the “Google Mini” is also available. There are currently no Canadian clients.

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