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Google Revises Search Appliance

The company's enterprise search hardware can now combine internal and external search indexes.

Web content and corporate content are finally getting together.

Google on Monday plans to introduce a new version of its enterprise search hardware that aims to make the divide between public and private files less obvious to those searching for information in their workplace.

The company intends to release version 6.8 of its Google Search Appliance, a search server used by companies to index internal or Web-facing content.

The update, available for existing GSA customers as a download, introduces the ability to combine external and internal indexes, while retaining all the security controls for on-premises documents. Consumer users of Google know this as universal search, a single interface that combines search results from indexes of different types of media.

"The scope of an organization is not contained within the firewall anymore," said Rajat Mukherjee, group product manager for Google's enterprise search group, in a phone briefing.

Business information is everywhere, Mukherjee insists, so search systems need to reach across traditional boundaries.

A new GSA feature feature called Cloud Connect does just that. It aggregates relevant search results from the Web and Google Site Search, Google Docs and Google Sites, enterprise data repositories, and social content like Twitter, and makes it all available to GSA users through a single interface.

The GSA upgrade also brings a new service called People Search, which helps present people-oriented information in search results. Other new capabilities include Dynamic Navigation, which provides search result filtering, connectors to Sharepoint 2010 and LDAP data sources, and Active-Active Monitoring, a way to mirror data across servers for higher availability and redundancy.

Mukherjee says that Google's goal with People Search is to encourage collaboration.

In addition to helping people work together more effectively, Mukherjee says the GSA helps people save time. He cites a 2009 IDC study, "The Hidden Cost of Information Work," which suggests that knowledge workers waste 25% of their time on tasks that could be made quicker through better search capabilities.

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