Google Search Appliance Woos, But Does It Wow?

June 3, 2009
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Yesterday, Google announced the latest version of its search appliance, GSA 6.0, to great fanfare. As usual, their emphasis was on scale: they’re pushing a distributed architecture that lets them “push it to a new realm: billions”. It’s a nice sound bite, and it played well to the press.

The few analysts who commented about it were somewhat more critical. Matthew Brown from Forrester said, “They’re coming to market so late, with requirements that were established years and years ago. They’ve reached parity with where the market was four or five years ago.” Adriaan Bloem from CMS Watch was even harsher, assessing many of Google’s claims as exaggerated and requiring a complexity at odds with their positioning as a plug-and-play appliance.

Given my role at Endeca, I’m in no position to be objective. But I’ll share my impressions, which you can take with the appropriate grain of salt. We don’t encounter Google much as a competitor; FAST and Autonomy are still more likely to show up with us on prospective customers’ short lists. And, while I have met happy GSA customers, I’ve met many more enterprise

Yesterday, Google announced the latest version of its search appliance, GSA 6.0, to great fanfare. As usual, their emphasis was on scale: they’re pushing a distributed architecture that lets them “push it to a new realm: billions”. It’s a nice sound bite, and it played well to the press.

The few analysts who commented about it were somewhat more critical. Matthew Brown from Forrester said, “They’re coming to market so late, with requirements that were established years and years ago. They’ve reached parity with where the market was four or five years ago.” Adriaan Bloem from CMS Watch was even harsher, assessing many of Google’s claims as exaggerated and requiring a complexity at odds with their positioning as a plug-and-play appliance.

Given my role at Endeca, I’m in no position to be objective. But I’ll share my impressions, which you can take with the appropriate grain of salt. We don’t encounter Google much as a competitor; FAST and Autonomy are still more likely to show up with us on prospective customers’ short lists. And, while I have met happy GSA customers, I’ve met many more enterprise buyers who scoff when I suggest the GSA as a candidate solution for them (yes, that’s why I’m not in sales). Also, my recent experience of seeing how Google positions the GSA was less than persuasive. There is still a widespread impression that Google is not serious about this market segment.

Of course, the market will decide, and a data-driven company like Google will surely track the success of its efforts quantitatively. But for now, I don’t feel that Google’s announcement has changed the competitive landscape. As always, I’m curious to hear others’ opinions.

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