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Google Gooses Its Mini Search Appliance

A year after introducing its Mini Search Appliance for businesses, Google is releasing a more muscular version that can handle up to 300,000 documents.

Pint-sized portions help maintain budgetary waistlines, but they inevitably leave customers wanting more. So to "celebrate" the first anniversary of its Google Mini search appliance, the company is selling Minis with more muscle.

The Google Mini can now be had with a 200,000-document capacity for $5,995 or a 300,000-document capacity for $8,995. A 100,000-document version is still available for $2,995.

"A year ago, our goal was to democratize enterprise search," says Rajen Sheth, product manager for the enterprise division at Google. "There's a large underserved market within smaller organizations that have that same need for finding information as large companies. There wasn't a solution out there that was low cost enough and easy to deploy."

For George Jackson Ratcliffe, executive director of information technology 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 says there really wasn't an affordable option for his organization. The software-based solutions he tested didn't perform well. The Google Mini, he notes, delivered "really good" results.

Ratcliffe also 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's Sheth says the company's enterprise customers number in the thousands. Last November, the official number was "more than 2,000."

Sheth is equally short on details about whether the Google Mini and its big brother, the $30,000-plus Google Search Appliance, will ever offer applications other than search. "The hardware and the software is still geared toward search," he says. "But one of the goals of our enterprise group is to look across all Google's technologies and find what makes sense to bring into the enterprise. We don't have anything specific to announce right now."

Stay tuned.

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