There are a number of organizations today that use the Google Search Appliance. And why not, it's a solution in a box that is relatively easy to use. You buy a machine, plug it in and then configure your setting appropriately. Very nice. But what if you aren't sure the Google Appliance is the right solution for you? How do you test before you buy? Google now offers you the ability to do just that with a virtual edition of the Google Search appliance.The Virtual edition of Google Search Appliance is not a commercial solution. It's been created for development purposes only, providing organizations the ability to see it in action, see how it integrates with their websites and test their applications -- all without costing them a dime. Prior to the virtual edition of Google Search Appliance, you had two choices for development and testing -- use the production box you purchased or buy multiple boxes. Neither is a really good solution to developing and testing your applications prior to launching to production. The virtual edition now provides an alternative. The virtual edition has the following capabilities: * Index up to 50,000 documents * Use the Connector Framework to index proprietary document repositories * Use the Feed API and metadata search to index information with unique formats * Use Onebox to retrieve information from real-time services * Take the authentication and secure search capabilities for a test drive * Customize the search results page, or extract it in XML format for use on another web site The virtual edition is available free to download. All you need to do is support vmware virtualization on a server. The hardware requirements are not so bad with a minimum of 3GB RAM (4 GB would be best), 40 GB space and a Pentium 4 Processor. Note that the only support for the virtual edition is by way of developer forums, no email or telephone support. CMWatch Contributing Analyst, Adriaan Bloem had this to say to about the virtual edition, "Try the VM, see for yourself how easy to use it is, but don't forget to push a little bit harder and try to do those extra things, which may be harder to accomplish than you'd think. Enterprise search isn't particularly suited to impulse buying, but at least now, you can think outside the box -- you should take your time doing so." The Google Search Appliance isn't a bad solution for search, depending on your needs. Take a look at the features it offers and the price tag, then download the virtual and take it for a spin.