Google Decries Enterprise Search Challenger's Claims

Google claims an Autonomy white paper contains "significant inaccuracies" about the larger company's security, comprehensiveness, relevancy, and user experience.

Antone Gonsalves, Contributor

January 31, 2008

3 Min Read

For the second time in six months, Google has publicly challenged a white paper from enterprise search rival Autonomy, claiming the latest document contains "significant inaccuracies."

In its Enterprise Search blog, Google said the smaller vendor was being less than truthful about the security, comprehensiveness, relevance in search results, and user experience of the bigger company's search appliance. Autonomy on Wednesday, however, stood its ground.

"For customers with demanding needs, the Google appliance lacks the necessary security and connectivity models," Mike Lynch, chief executive of Autonomy, said in an e-mailed statement. "It is not possible to make successful high-end enterprise search solutions without mapped security and productized connectors to repositories."

The latest spat reflects how the market for technology that operates behind an organization's firewall and searches content in a variety of data stores is heating up. Microsoft, for example, agreed this month to pay $1.2 billion -- a 42% premium -- for Fast Search & Transfer, a software maker that lost $130 million last year. IBM is another tech giant that's slugging it out in the market.

Google claimed the white paper said Google's appliance "does not index all your critical content." In his rebuttal, Nitin Mangtani, lead product manager for Google Enterprise Search, said in the company blog that the appliance searches file shares, intranets, databases and real-time business data. In addition, there are connectors to third-party content management systems, such as Documentum and Microsoft SharePoint.

On security, Autonomy claimed the security features in Google's appliance "are not sufficient for enterprise use," according to Mangtani, who responded that the device has two levels of security. The first provides support for multiple security access control systems, and the second supports document-level security with all content sources.

As to claims that the appliance failed to produce a high enough level of relevant search results, Mangtani countered that more than 50% of Google customers switched to the product because it had a higher relevancy rate than rivals.

Finally, on user experience, Autonomy's paper said the Google appliance "does not offer the advanced retrieval or automatic information operations required by the enterprise," Mangtani said. In response, he claimed the product does offer advanced operations while leveraging a fast and easy-to-use interface comparable with Google's Web portal.

"Although the above list is by no means thorough, we feel it's important to clarify misinformation about enterprise search," Mangtani wrote. "Ultimately, it might be better to let our products and our customers from all industries do the talking."

Despite Google's complaints, at least some of Autonomy's claims were confirmed in a separate report by analyst firm CMS Watch. The firm found that the latest version 5 of Google Search Appliance trailed most competitors in security and in connectors to data sources.

In July, Autonomy published another white paper that drew an angry response from Google. "Inaccuracies about our enterprise ranking algorithms, and downright fabrications about our security and access control capabilities," Matthew Glotzbach, product management director, wrote at the time. "The text is an amalgamation of hearsay and speculation attempting to push customers away from Google and toward their competitive product."

This story was edited on Jan. 31 to include comments from Autonomy.

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