Google to enter data classification market

Internet search giant Google will partner with data classification startup StoredIQ to co-market an enterprise search and classification product.

Google will strike up a partnership Monday with data classification startup StoredIQ Inc. to co-market an enterprise search and data classification product, according to StoredIQ officials.

Austin, Texas-based StoredIQ is one of a handful of startups that makes software that categorizes enterprise data according to business policies. For information lifecycle management purposes, this process matches classifications of data with their appropriate tier of the storage infrastructure, as well as the appropriate security, compliance, data protection, migration and disaster recovery levels.

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"Google organizes information and makes it accessible and useful for businesses, while StoredIQ's software makes the business information actionable," said a StoredIQ statement on the partnership.

Peter Gerr, strategic development partner with Ridge Partners LLC., noted that Google is in a strong position to build relationships with storage vendors. "Google indexes the world's information -- the interesting question is, what are they going to do with all that data once they have captured and indexed it?"

Gerr said that Google's decision to partner with a data classification company like StoredIQ might be a move to tailor the company's enterprise search appliance for vertical markets.

StoredIQ is primarily focused on the healthcare space. Atlantic Healthcare, Berkshire Hospitals, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona and Medline use StoreIQ's Information Asset Management software to organize unstructured data files, and set and enforce policies about their handling in external storage gear.

Still, some industry insiders believe that categorizing all data within the enterprise is a daunting task and that data classification startups like StoredIQ, Kazeon Inc., Njini Inc. and Scentric Inc. have an uphill battle.

"The problem with these products is that you're only as good as the automation policies you put in place … will it classify every document correctly?" said David Scott, CEO of 3Par Data Inc.

Whatever the merits of the technology, Google's dominant position in the industry and huge balance sheet make it a must-watch as it moves into this market. The company launched its enterprise search appliance, dubbed Google Search Appliance, in early 2002. It indexes content on a company's intranet and Web servers and starts at $30,000 for the ability to search across 500,000 documents. Customers include Discovery Communications Inc., The National Park Service, Sprint Nextel, PBS.org, Pfizer Inc and The World Bank, among others.

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