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Google Mini Upgrade Focuses On Security

Google's low-end enterprise search appliance offers improved security and can restrict access to information to authorized users only.

The Google Mini, Google's $1,995-plus search appliance, is getting an upgrade to version 2.2, and with the new features comes a new enterprise-specific mission statement.

The Google Mini aims to "organize your company's information and make it accessible and relevant to authorized users." That's how Google puts it in a promotional PDF file detailing the product. This differs from Google's general mission "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful."

Security is clearly a major concern for the new Mini. In part that's because the Mini is being used to search potentially sensitive internal documents rather than externally facing Web documents, which are generally more innocuous. "Initially, we saw it as a site search solution," said Kevin Gough, enterprise product manager at Google. "But companies have been using it to search their intranets."

To accommodate such uses, the new Mini's security features include support for Windows NTLM, an authentication protocol, HTTP Basic, and LDAP/Active Directory integration.

But security isn't the Mini's only focus. Gough said Google also wanted to improve the Mini for administrators and users. Perhaps the most notable addition is support for Google OneBox calls to search external data sources, previously available only on the $30,000-plus Google Search Appliance.

Google's enterprise products faced a new challenge in December when IBM and Yahoo began offering IBM OmniFind Yahoo Edition, free entry-level search software for corporate servers.

At a dinner Google hosted for a few journalists last week, Dave Girouard, VP and general manager of Google Enterprise, discounted the impact of the IBM-Yahoo announcement and said that the OmniFind software wasn't really going to appeal to Google's enterprise customers.

But IDC analyst Sue Feldman isn't so sure. "In terms of functionality I think the IBM-Yahoo OmniFind Edition is tremendous value for zero cost," she said. "Some of the features they provide aren't provided by the Google Mini."

Even so, Feldman said that Google, IBM, and Yahoo have contributed to the commoditization of low-end search while simultaneously broadening the market because they "are tremendous at creating awareness and buzz."

"Companies are beginning to understand," Feldman said, "that they're at risk if they don't find their information in a timely manner."

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