Search for the enterprise

IDM: Vijay, Google last year had revenue of $21 billion and 99% of that came from Adwords. It has to be asked, why does Google bother with the Enterprise when that huge revenue stream just keeps getting bigger?
Vijay: The easy answer is to say let’s just focus on what we do best and focus on Adwords.  Enterprise software doesn’t have the same growth rate as ads did in the last 10 years.  Let’s face it that was a once in a lifetime opportunity in terms of going from a zero to a 20 billion dollar company in 10 years. You just don’t see that every day.
But Enterprise is a strategic area for us, enterprise search specifically. Search is the front end for everything on the Internet, and we see that same phenomenon starting to take shape in the enterprise. We expected it to happen seven years ago when we started. We would have loved every enterprise to adopt it but we understand that it takes time.  When you look at all the other enterprise apps that we have we are building our own platform for information management with a completely different philosophy.  It’s a philosophy of you don’t need large IT departments spending months or years deploying the solution. All of our solutions are very easy to deploy, provide high value and low total cost of ownership.

IDM: Your licensing is defined by the number of documents that can be searched by the appliance, but documents these days can include a lot of multimedia elements such as video, animation and audio?
Vijay: Our search results will link to the source document, so when you have a video it’s not important to have the entire video sit in your search index, what’s important is you have enough information about the video  in your index. We have a ton of information in our index but you don’t necessarily have to have the entire file.

Google’s success is largely due to the page ranking algorithm on the Internet, but isn’t enterprise search a different set of challenges?
Vijay: Page rank matters very little in enterprise search, less than 1% in terms of the algorithms that matter. We use dozens of algorithms that are specific to the enterprise in our search appliance. That’s why we have a dedicated team of engineers as part of the team of over 1000 within Google Enterprise that are looking at how you tell relevance for Word documents or other unstructured data, where you don’t have the benefit of page ranking .

IDM: What is your strategy with indexing email.  If each email is a document, there are a lot of documents sitting on a mail server?
Vijay: Yes, but typically you don’t see customers indexing entire mail servers . The most common case is where people have Outlook and Exchange and you work with Google desktop which is free to index all of your Outlook email, so people can get everything indexed on their desktop without paying anything extra using Google desktop. Most users don’t have access to other user’s email so you would be indexing quite a lot of data for no use.

IDM: The importance of enterprise search is a great opportunity for Google and others, do you think it indicates a fault of enterprise content management?
Vijay: I wouldn’t say ECM is a failure but ECM will never be a single repository. At best ECM can be a central repository for a portion of your information, so enterprises end up having multiple central ECM repositories, multiple single sign-on systems. It’s the reality that we live in.

IDM: Is Google Search Appliance configured for ECM platforms popular in Australia and New Zealand, e.g. Trim and Objective?
Vijay: Trim & Objective are not built in out of the box, but our local specialist Bluepoint has built them for some of their deployments and once you’ve built a connector to Trim you can very easily redeploy it. The best bet for Australian or New Zealand customers is to work with our local partner. We have a number in the region.

IDM: What do you think of Microsoft’s search strategy and does it provide your biggest competition?
Vijay: Whenever someone has invested the money in SharePoint or any other ECM system it tells us that these guys are serious about thinking about their knowledge workers, thinking about their employees, trying to improve their productivity and willing to spend money to get the right tools. Unfortunately SharePoint just doesn’t have good search and that true for a lot of other CMS systems, so we see that as a great opportunity, they spend so much money on ECM, ERP CRM and just need to spend a little bit more
Our customers tell us that they are confused. Whether they are SharePoint customers or former FAST customers they come to us and say they ‘re not sure when FAST is really going to be integrated with SharePoint. Certainly a lot of our customers and prospective customers are asking us. We can’t be sure what Microsoft’s strategy is but since we launched our strategy hasn’t changed, the fundamental pitch has been the same. Any enterprise software vendor that is providing search as part of their platform is using a fundamentally different approach than we have. Our approach is lets bake it all into an appliance and let’s make it really powerful and easy to configure without customers being required to invest in a lot of IT resources.