Google's got its eyes on your corporate data, and if its ability to parlay its whip-smart Web search technology into a vast empire of consumer services is any indication, you may be Googling enterprise apps and data sooner than you think.
For several years, Google has been putting the wheels in motion for a serious enterprise play, but the Web-specific nature of its search has limited its reach. That obstacle may have fallen last week as consulting services company BearingPoint announced a partnership to extend the GSA (Google Search Appliance) throughout the enterprise with services, support, customized plug-ins, and security integration.
And it's not only Google's search that has been getting the enterprise treatment. The company is testing a program that allows its Gmail Web-based mail product to act as the back-end service for corporate e-mail domains. In addition, an enterprise version of Google's Desktop Search tool bolsters security and offers control to IT admins.
However, questions still loom about Google's viability as a high-end enterprise player. "[Google has] got the great brand name, but it doesn't have credibility as a provider of enterprise technology," said David Schatsky, senior vice president of research at JupiterResearch.
Schatsky feels the deal with BearingPoint may bring an answer. As an enterprise integrator with a global, cross-industry reach, BearingPoint could give Google some of the enterprise "street cred" that is prerequisite for supplying critical technology infrastructure to Fortune 1000 companies.
"The relationship can close the gap between the core technology and the savvy needed to make it work the enterprise," Schatsky said.
Bringing Google to bear
According to Chris Weitz, managing director at BearingPoint, the new partnership will allow Google customers to use the Search Appliance as the primary search application for the enterprise.
Since it launched the Google Search Appliance in February 2002, Google has been continually expanding the volume and types of content it can crawl. Initially the GSA indexed only Web-based content, giving corporations a taste of what Google could do behind the firewall but not reaching enough content to be an enterprise solution.
After a series of updates, the GSA now reaches into relational databases, corporate security systems, content management apps, portals, more than 220 file formats, and Lotus Domino. BearingPoint will expand this reach considerably with software adapters that can link Google's appliance to a slew of enterprise applications, such as Documentum and FileNet, Oracle databases, and Seibel. Also, BearingPoint is offering security extensions to GSA that allow for authentication, record-level security, and custom integration.
"People want to use the Google front end for as much as they can. We want to plug in these adapters to complete that reach and scope to allow access to these areas in the enterprise that are difficult to reach," Weitz said.