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Google: Consumer Input Spurred OneBox

Google's OneBox for Enterprise, the culmination of a partnership with several software and hardware vendors, will be released in beta next week.

Google's new OneBox for Enterprise had a low priority just a few months ago, but bubbled quickly into a top corporate mission, according to Dave Girouard, general manager of Google's enterprise business.

In an interview following his keynote address at this week's Search Engine Meeting in Boston, Girouard said the OneBox solution, which is a partnership with several software and hardware vendors, will be released in Beta next week.

"It started as a simple idea on Google.com," he said. "We decided we wanted to take that metaphor and spring it into the enterprise." Girouard added that OneBox for Enterprise had its genesis primarily through consumer use of its search engine rather than through enterprise usage, and he expects the "consumer-to-enterprise" scenario to be followed repeatedly in the future as Google develops new products.

"People are more satisfied with consumer applications than with what they use at work," he said. "It's consumers who are driving innovation. Enterprise search just hasn't been useful enough for end users."

So, what's next, Girouard was asked.

He indicated the company could look to how consumers use mobile wireless. For emphasis, Girouard typed out instant mail messages through GoogleTalk on his BlackBerry handheld.

He pointed out that the U.S. is still "PC-centric" while other parts of the world are more advanced in wireless technology utilized by consumers. More people in China have Internet access via their smart cell phones than via PCs. "Google is pushing ahead on instant messaging," he said indicating that when the company unveils sophisticated wireless enterprise solutions, the technologies "will be very well established."

OneBox for Enterprise uses a consumer-friendly approach. In addition to major partners like Cisco, Cognos, Oracle, and SAS, Google is hoping waves of developers sign up for the program. "OneBox is a simple idea that can be used for just about anything," said Girouard.

Another speaker at the Boston meeting, Steve Arnold, managing partner of Arnold Information Technology, said he has had a hands-on demo of OneBox for Enterprise and believes it will be a disruptive technology. "You won't need an analyst anymore" for several IT applications, said Arnold. "It eliminates the analyst bottleneck. You'll get reports in seconds, not weeks or months."

Of course, the success of OneBox for Enterprise will depend on how well Google and its partners craft their interfaces. Girouard notes that large IT shops, too, have talented developers who can work on the OneBox technology. In announcing OneBox for Enterprise last week, Google also unveiled a companion Google Developer Program, which supplies developers with Google Enterprise SDKs, documentation, and an online mechanism for posting work with other customers, partners, and developers.

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