When David Girouard, vice president and General Manager of Google enterprise, said the Google Search Appliance has “had a vision to make search inside of business as simple and effective as searching on Google.com” he wasn’t lying. And with the recent slew of upgrades to GSA, we think it’s safe to say the line between that vision and reality has blurred considerably.

How it Works

If you’re unfamiliar with GSA, all you really need to know about it besides its obvious maker is that it’s easy. And when we say easy, we mean: you buy a cool yellow box, plug it in, and watch all of your dreams of search simplicity come true. Really. Once hooked up, the Google Search Appliance crawls your content and creates a master index of documents that is then ready for instant retrieval using Google's search technology, whenever a customer or employee types in a search query. The Google Search Appliance can index millions (10 million to be exact) of documents, and its security features ensure that users can only access the information that they have permission to view. It's integrated hardware and software, making it easy to set-up and maintain.

Let's Get Personal

We all know Google's aim with a lot of their products is to make them as user-specific as possible, whether by using a unique identifier in their Chrome browser or by developing fancy skins for Gmail. It only makes sense that they'd do the same for their Enterprise tools. Google knows that different users within an organization are going to want to search for different things (their example is what a marketing manager might search for vs. what an engineer might search for). And while it might be all well and good to do that using the Web, the majority of the information employees need isn't published there; it's hiding somewhere in an abyss behind a corporate firewall. Aside from applying their default search algorithms to GSA, of course, Google is doing a lot of other things to make using GSA as identical to searching with Google as possible. One of our favorite new features is the enabling of the familiar alerts function which allows GSA users to subscribe to specific topics. Interested in a competitor? Just type in a few related key words, set them as an alert and you'll be notified as soon as anyone within the company posts a document containing those words. Nifty, huh?

What Else is New?

End User Features

* Personalized search experience: Allow administrators to adjust search results for different user groups, based on department or function. * Spellchecker in six new languages: French, Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch.

Enterprise Content

* Languages restrict search results to any of 27 auto-detected languages including administrative functions in new languages (Czech, English-UK, Portuguese-Portugal, Turkish, Vietnamese); contextual spellchecking for all end users in Portuguese, French, Italian, German, Spanish and Dutch.

Security and Access Control

* Kerberos support: Provide native support for Kerberos, enabling a silent authentication experience for end users. * Metadata biasing: Administrators can bias results based on metadata (in addition to biasing based on source, URL or date). * Advanced reporting: View and export daily and hourly result sets, top queries, special feature usage and more. Report for every query, including reports on which queries receive no clicks by a user and how often users are clicking on sponsored links in comparison to organic search results or OneBox modules.

Administration and Customization

* Localized administration: Administer your Google Search Appliance around the globe in 27 different languages. Full administration is now supported in Basque, Catalan, Chinese (simplified), Chinese (traditional), Czech, Danish, Dutch, English (US), English (UK), Finnish, French, Galician, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazilian), Portuguese (Portugal), Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish and Vietnamese.

Assured Armageddon Survivors: Cockroaches, Cher and Google

We know it's a lot of information and these new developments aren't going to help in quieting the buzz around Google's not-so-secret agenda to take over the world, but as long as their developments make our jobs easier, we're not complaining. For additional information and a couple of short explanatory videos, check out Google's Enterprise blog here.