Businesses looking to use Google's search appliances should
realize that the devices do not have the same level of security or customization
as products from some enterprise-specialist competitors, according to a report
Released this week, the report, Google for Enterprise
Search is Simple and Popular, yet Limited, outlines the strengths
and weaknesses of the search giant's enterprise-class search appliances.
"Google's appliances are excellent choices for tactical
installations that do not require regular tuning. Through to at least [the end
of] 2007, however, enterprises should test the appliances before purchasing them
and should not expect Google to measure up to enterprise-specialist
competitors," the report states.
Google offers two types of search hardware; the Search
Appliance for large companies, and the Mini for small and medium firms.
Price and the ease with which it is possible to install and
configure the systems are major plus points, but the analyst group warns that
the devices have shortcomings--especially around customization. "Other [Google
customers] have been shocked to discover that Google will not allow them to see
more about how its systems work--a critical capability in sensitive
environments. Most search vendors grant their users great control," the report said.
Gartner also highlights a lack of sophistication in the
Google appliances when it comes to security. The analyst concedes that the
levels of security the device can provide have been improved but not to the
degree required by some enterprise customers. "[Large firms] say that Google
lacks subtlety and flexibility in managing security from administrative
perspectives. Some legacy security systems are still unreachable; however any
inexpensive search vendor can have the same problem," Gartner warned.
Google launched the smallest version of its Mini range of
hardware appliance earlier this month. The latest device has the capacity to
search up to 50,000 documents and includes a year of support for £1,295 (US$2238.41).
"The price point for this product is a huge motivator.
£1,200 is the price of a laptop or a Gucci handbag," Arvind Desikan, Google
product marketing manager, told ZDNet UK.
The Google Mini is designed to enable small businesses to
let employees and Web site visitors search documents, including blog postings
and wiki entries. Google hopes to find customers among healthcare organizations,
educational institutions, government agencies, and small to medium-sized
businesses such as law firms and consultancies.
The original Mini, released last January, handles 100,000
documents and sells for £1,995 (US$3448.36) in the United Kingdom. Other Minis in the range include
versions that can search 200,000 or 300,000 documents.
The Minis are aimed at smaller businesses than Google's
other hardware device, the Google Search Appliance, which is designed for larger
businesses and can support up to 15 million documents.