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Google Gooses Its Mini

Google MiniPint-sized portions help maintain budgetary waistlines, but they can leave customers wanting more. That's why Google is selling models of its Mini search appliance with more muscle.

The Google Mini is a hardware-software combo that searches the Web, intranets, and internal documents. It can now be had with a 200,000-document capacity for $5,995 or a 300,000-document capacity for $8,995. Google came out a year ago with its first Mini, which searches up to 100,000 documents, as a low-cost appliance for smaller businesses. The Google Search Appliance, aimed at big businesses, costs upward of $30,000.

For George Jackson Ratcliffe, executive director of IT at Dominican University of California, simplicity and price are critical. The school uses two Minis: One indexes internal documents and a second, purchased just weeks ago, provides search for its Web site. Before the Google Mini, Ratcliffe couldn't find an affordable option for information search. Software he tested for the job didn't work well. And Ratcliffe appreciates how easy it is to deploy the Mini. "It takes longer to screw the unit into a rack than it does to set it up," he says.

Google, which gets 99% of its revenue from ads, is coy about its search-appliance customers, only saying they number in the thousands. But expect more business-geared offerings. Says Rajen Sheth, product manager for Google's enterprise arm, "One of [our] goals is to look across all Google's technologies and find what makes sense to bring into the enterprise." It's a miniscule business for Google now, but this could get interesting.

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