Yahoo and IBM combined forces on an enterprise search product and took a swipe at Google's enterprise search appliances to boot.
From the Yahoo blog announcing the IBM OmniFind Yahoo Edition:
Beyond creating a product that was super easy to use we don’t believe that small and mid-sized businesses (or even large enterprises!) should need to spend $1,995 or more to get a reliable and robust enterprise search solution.
That $1,995 remark should sound familiar to anyone who has perused Google's enterprise search page. It also appears IBM and Yahoo are taking direct aim at Google's Mini.
On the surface this deal should be a no-brainer: Yahoo's enterprise search is a free software download. Google's Mini search appliance isn't and could run you as much as $8,995 if you want to search 300,000 documents. Yahoo does a maximum of 500,000 documents.
With Google's Mini you get "an integrated software and hardware device that indexes and serves results using a standards-based approach (HTTP and HTTPS protocols)." In other words, the Mini is plug and play. If you break down the Mini it could be that most of the cost covers the hardware you'd have to buy anyway.
Omnifind is a free download, but there are hardware requirements. In production, you'll need 2 processors at 3 GHz, 2 GB of RAM and 250 GB mirrored disk space.
If you have a spare server laying around meeting those specs then the IBM-Yahoo combo may be a better deal. If you don't a PowerEdge server at Dell based on those specs using Red Hat Linux would run you $4,274 without bells and whistles beyond those initial IBM requirements. That price was as of 3:30 p.m. EST. If you get Windows Server 2003 standard edition that server will run you $4,724.
Moving up the food chain to Google's full-blown appliances will cost you more (and require more hardware), but the calculus still remains: Don't forget the hardware costs with the IBM-Yahoo search. Perhaps the IBM-Yahoo enterprise search is a steal, but you'll need your calculator handy.
There's also the matter of approaches. IBM and Yahoo are going with a software only approach. Google likes the plug and play method and is betting that's what IT shops want. Indeed there may be another variable to consider: Labor costs.
As for the Mini, Google argues its search products are packaged as appliances "to ensure that your users have a true Google-quality experience. We rigorously test the integrated software and hardware solution to ensure that your search experience is fast, reliable, and consistent. Because the software and hardware components are already tested in Google's own datacenters, you can be sure that the system can handle your most critical search requirements."
In the end, IBM and Yahoo may put some serious pressure on Google's pricing depending on how much you value plug and play. But the impact from the IBM and Google enterprise search effort isn't as clear as it seems on first glance. Stay tuned, this could get interesting.