Google is upgrading its Mini search appliance this week, adding in some of the features from its higher end Google Search Appliance. The base $1,995 pricing, for a 50,000 document store, makes it more palatable to the broader SMB market. A 300,000 document Mini goes for at $8,995.
The pricing includes a year of support in the form of hardware replacement coverage, point and patch upgrades, a knowledge base and email-based support. If customers want to continue with the support option after the first year, it is available for $995 per year--nearly half the cost of the base unit. So far, Google has 7,000 customers for its plug and play search appliances, according to Kevin Gough, enterprise product manager at Google.
The new Mini adds the Google OneBox for Enterprise interfaces for accessing data stored in to enterprise applications and services, can crawl sites protected by HTTP Basic and NTLM v1 and v2 security and integrates with LDAP and Active Directory. Google Analytics, which give companies the ability to track and make search results more effective, and Google Sitemap, which generates a sitemap that helps Google crawl a public Web site. The new Mini software also supports search results by number range, such as products between $1,000 and $3,000.
Gough said the Google's enterprise division has grown to 250 people, and is focused on three initiatives: search appliances, geospatial (professional versions of Google Earth, SketchUp and Google Maps) and collaboration (Google Apps for Your Domain). He was not forthcoming on whether Google's enterprise strategy includes an Office-like suite. "We have nothing specific on a software suite for enterprises," Gough said. "At Google Enterprise we look at consumer technology and figure out what is relevant for business."
He noted that Arizona State University has deployed 65,000 users on Google Apps for Your Domain, which includes a Start page, Gmail, Google Talk, Google Calendar and Google Page Creator. Google acquired Jotspot, a wiki based applications platform, a few months ago. Gough said that Google is not specifying a roadmap for JotSpot yet.
At this point, Google is still being coy about how it plans to evolve its enterprise business beyond the lose federation of products today. The search appliance business is a clear winner, leveraging the companies massive investment in search technology and banking on the familiar Google interface inside the firewall. The geospatial business, especially Earth and Maps, can be significant we have seen in mashups. For commerical use, without ads, the company can generate revenue.
Collaboration is a major part of the company's business strategy--riding the shift from heavyweight, costly client applications to an integrated suite of ad supported or subscription-based Web services. With the communications pieces in place, such as Gmail, Google Reader and Google Talk, adding in productivity applications, which are built from the ground up as collaborative, becomes an easier sell.
Google doesn't seem to be in a big hurry to flesh out its applications. In the meantime, Zoho, ThinkFree and other productivity suites are gaining a bit of traction. It's a good time to take a look at the Web-based alternatives to Microsoft Office 2007 as it begins its journey forward.