Google is upgrading its Search Appliance for the enterprise in an effort to help workers find information stored anywhere in their organizations.
Google Search Appliance 7.0 was unveiled today and will be available Oct. 16 for sale or for customers to download. The new version would help employees in large enterprises find stored information whether they're using a desktop PC, a tablet or a smartphone.
"Google is really doubling down on enterprise search," said Matthew Eichner, general manager of Enterprise Search for Google. "We think that enterprise search is an unsolved problem.... We're really targeting now the world's largest organizations with great complexity problems."
The appliance is designed to enable administrators to add information from sources stored in the cloud, social networking sites, the public Web and secure storage. The new appliance also offers search for SharePoint 2010, Microsoft's collaboration tool.
"With GSA 7.0, we've refined our relevance signals," Eichner wrote in a blog post. "Entity Recognition automatically identifies and suggests content you might be looking for, and GSA 7.0 also harnesses the 'wisdom of crowds,' allowing employees to add their own search results."
The update also includes a new interface and a new document preview feature that enables users to view thumbnails and flip through full-screen document previews alongside their search results. Google Translate offers automatic translations in more than 60 languages displayed in search results.
David Schubmehl, an analyst with IDC, said the appliance update is important for major enterprises that need to make their information stores available to employees.
"People are still dissatisfied with the way their internal search systems work," Schubmehl said. "Everybody wants it to be as good as the Web. If I don't find the answer, I at least want to find an answer... Google is trying to make internal search as good as Web search."
Schubmehl noted that productivity can be adversely affected if people have to spend a lot of time searching for information stored within their own organizations.
An IDC study in 2009 found that the time spent searching for information that year alone averaged 8.8 hours per week per employee, adding up to a cost of $14,209 per worker per year.
"There's a generation of workers who are starting to leave the workforce, and they've created years or decades of information and that information could be very valuable if people knew about it," said Schubmehl. "Let's say I'm working in a pharmaceutical company doing drug research and I know there are seven groups doing research around the world. Who are these other researchers and are they doing the same work I am? It can be hard to get even that information."
Schubmehl noted that the latest Google Search Appliance has benefits, such as better navigation and more filters for different types of files.
"You might have information siloed in 15 or more different systems," said Schubmehl. "Being able to put all of that into one search index and letting people use that information and pull it up at need would be a tremendous improvement. The Google Search Appliance moves us further down the road of being able to do that kind of stuff."
Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin and on Google+, or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.