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Google beefs up Search Appliance - will e-Discovery search follow?

Google Inc.’s Search Appliance (GSA) got a facelift today with the release of version 6.0. The focus of the release was adding scalability. Google claims that racks full of the modular appliances can now centrally search up to a billion files (between four and five racks, to be exact). In support of this scale, Google is also launching new hardware for GSA called the GB-9009, based on the new R710 server from Dell and Xeon 5500 Series processors from Intel.

GSA can also be further customized in 6.0 than previous releases for enterprises. An auto-complete feature in the search box (similar to the auto-complete on will offer suggestions to users as they’re typing search terms based on the enterprise’s internal “crowdsourcing.” Users can flag content for others to find, which Google calls “social search.” Node biasing – which weights search results according to what storage device they come from – and collection biasing – similar to node biasing, but with collections of documents – are also available for users to customize search results with 6.0.

GSA can pull search results from archiving and e-Discovery repositories including EMC Corp.’s Documentum and IBM’s FileNet, but doesn’t contain compliance workflow features e-Discovery and archiving applications usually offer. GSA product manager Cyrus Mistri said GSA can be used to search across multiple e-Discovery and archiving repositories, but the search algorithm itself is optimized and engineered to deliver the most relevant results for a given keyword rather than comprehensive results showing every instance of a keyword, which is the focus for compliance search products.

But that doesn’t mean they couldn’t offer that – centrally, at scale – and own a key chunk of the compliance archiving market right now. It’s hard to argue that’s outside Google’s focus after they spent $625 million to acquire email archiver Postini two years ago. “I would never say never, let’s put it that way,” said Mistri.

In the meantime, Enterprise Strategy Group senior analyst Brian Babineau added in an email to Storage Soup, “if customers are transitioning from file servers to multiple Sharepoint sites, we definitely think GSA can help connect those information sources. In a recent ESG SharePoint survey, 49% of Sharepoint users also leveraged GSA supporting our thesis that Sharepoint sites needed to be connected by an enterprise search solution.”

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I hate to rain on the SharePoint parade, but we have been using SharePoint as a wiki and knowledge base for several years now, and it is frustrating at best. The editing in the SharePoint UI is just painful. There are free tools that would be better, but we keep our content where it is for now, due to the cost associated with moving everything, and the fact that the company's entire intranet is implemented in SharePoint.