Google releases new version of its Search Appliance

Updated software boosts search capacity to multi-billions of documents

Google Inc. today unveiled a new high-end Google Search Appliance (GSA) with a revamped software architecture designed to lift its indexing capacity to billions of documents.

The new appliance, the GB-9009, can index up to 30 million documents, according to Google. Its minimum capacity is 15 million documents.

Google sells the Search Appliance as a hardware box bundled with enterprise search software designed to let companies index and retrieve data stored in their corporate systems, such as applications, document management tools, databases, Web servers and files. The upgraded Version 6.0 of the GSA software is based technology the company uses in its Web search engines, including

In an enterprise search market historically dominated by sophisticated products that are costly and difficult to implement and use, Google in the past has tried to compete with an aggressively priced, low- to mid-range product designed to be simple to install, maintain and use.

However, with the new architecture and capacity to scale up to billions of indexed documents, the GB-9009 Search Appliance appears to give Google its most serious chance to compete for customers looking for industrial strength enterprise search products.

The GB-9009 replaces the GB-8008, which, had to be hard-wired and pre-configured on 12 server nodes to provide the capacity of the new system, said Nitin Mangtani, senior product manager of enterprise search at Google.

The GB-9009 appliance is based on Dell's PowerEdge R710 rack server platform, which runs Intel Xeon 5500 Series processors. Unlike the predecessor single-box Search Appliance models, the GB-9009 has two units: one for processing and one for storage.

Google is also phasing out the entry-level GB-1001, which topped out at 3 million documents but could be stacked in configurations of either five or eight units, providing capacity for up to 10 million or 30 million documents, respectively.

Google will continue to support the GB-1001 and GB-8008 models.

Thanks to the new more flexible architecture, IT departments can mix and match GB-7007 appliances, which will continue to be sold, and the GB-9009 based on their capacity needs. The devices can be linked even if they're not in the same physical location.

The new 6.0 software also adds more options for IT managers to customize administration, security and search relevancy features.

In addition, GSA 6.0 provides end users with social search capabilities, such as the ability for them to add results.

While the Search Appliance's functionality still isn't as sophisticated as that of high-end products from Autonomy and Microsoft's Fast Search, it has now moved upstream, said IDC analyst Susan Feldman. "The Search Appliance is no longer as much of a black box," she said.

The new search appliance is priced from $30,000.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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