Google has launched a new version of its enterprise search tool, Google Search Appliance, which uses a feature called Cloud Connect to unite local searching of privately held data with that of information stored in public and private clouds.
Google Search Appliance (GSA) 6.8, unveiled on Monday, introduces a number of new features such as Cloud Connect and Dynamic Navigation, which lets people customise the results returned and modify the way in which they are displayed on screen. The new version also makes it possible to integrate corporate contact information into search results.
"We're moving towards the vision of cloud-to-ground... you have needs on-premise but also information out there in the cloud and we're trying to bring all this together," Google's search product manager Rajat Mukherjee told ZDNet UK. "Business information is everywhere. Even if you just look within your own firewall, you're talking about information in emails, in specific applications like SAP or databases. You have Wikis, you have content management systems like SharePoint or Documentum, and you need to have access to all this information."
With more than three million business customers and 30 million active users of Google Apps, Mukherjee argued that the ability to search in the cloud is more important than ever. "A lot of people are moving a lot of their intellectual property into the cloud," he said. "It's not just Google Apps; we're also talking about other cloud solutions like Salesforce.com or people doing marketing campaigns on Twitter — searching external websites, the trend is actually pretty pervasive in terms of the amount of the information that's on-premise as well as the need to serve data from the cloud."
GSA 6.8 includes People Search, which brings corporate profile information into search results. "People in organisations are looking for the right experts to communicate with right away to get their jobs done," said Mukherjee, who added that the new Active-Active Mirroring feature, which makes it possible to run multiple appliances concurrently, had been requested by many users.
Google has also integrated new connectors for SharePoint 2010, along with Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) connectors for People Search to index information such as employee directories and repositories. GSA 6.8 also includes the ability to cache access control list (ACL) information within the appliance itself, which Google says makes secure search faster.
"Security is very important. You shouldn't see documents that you don't have access to in organisations. For example, the CEO will have access to different information than the regular employees," Mukherjee said. "So you want to make sure that you can verify that a user has access to a specific document before surfacing it in a search result, or even a snippet. With ACL caching we've enhanced the scalability of that; we can do this check much faster."
The inclusion of new key features, particularly Dynamic Navigation, makes Google's enterprise search offering more attractive to potential customers according to Susan Feldman research vice president, search and discovery, IDC.
"This is an important release for the Google Search Appliance. It brings it up to the level of other existing enterprise search applications in federation, and introduces a basic dynamic navigation capability that will make information workers more productive," said Feldman.
Google Search Appliance 6.8 is available now starting from $15,000 (£9,440) per year for a two-to-three year contract, depending on organisational requirements. Existing customers can download the new features from Google's enterprise support pages.