As its name suggests, Side-by-Side allows users to compare and rate the results of a search query, or a series of search queries, returned by two different devices, search services, or corporate policies.
For example, an administrator of a Google Search Appliance (GSA) could conduct a side-by-side comparison of search results generated by a version 6.0 GSA and a version 5.2 GSA or by different front-end settings, to see the effect of a setting like search biasing.
Side-by-Side has been designed accept user votes about which search results list provides the most relevant results. This may help compensate for the absence in corporate indexes of Web links between documents, which serve in Google Internet searches as votes for relevancy.
"In the end, users care about one thing: The right results coming to the top," said Google Enterprise product manager Cyrus Mistry in an explanatory video. "...This is a tool that will allow your users to tell you whether the right results are coming through."
Beyond its utility as a way to evaluate internal search relevancy, Side-by-Side can also be used to evaluate whether Google delivers better search results than the competition.
The software allows people to compare an existing Website search service to Google Site Search, Google's hosted search service for Web sites. It can also be used to compare an enterprise search service offered by one of Google's competitors, like Microsoft, to the GSA.
"In our tests of course, the Google Search Appliance shows the more relevant search results," said Mistry. "But we urge you to test it for yourself."
Google has also updated its GSA connector software for file and content management systems, and added a GSA connector for Salesforce.com data. The connectors make it easier to search across corporate data repositories.