Building tools for users teaches Google how to make a better enterprise search product, the head of the company's enterprise unit told Interop attendees in a keynote address Wednesday in Las Vegas.
Most business applications get harder to use over time because they are designed with IT managers instead of end users in mind, said Dave Girouard, vice president and general manager of Google's enterprise business. Google's appliance for searching data within an organization is an exception, he said. The OneBox capability recently announced for enterprise search, which collects the most likely relevant information into a small box at the top of a search results page, is an example of Google making the product easier to use, he said.
"We've been able to innovate without adding complexity to the system," Girouard said.
The Mountain View, California, company's presence at what traditionally has been the annual enterprise networking gathering reflects the blending of data network concerns with issues such as voice, security, storage and applications. On Tuesday, Avaya Inc. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Donald Peterson fingered Google as a possible contender in the directory field, and Yankee Group analyst Zeus Kerravala said he believes the company could break into enterprise telephony now that voice calling has become a software function separate from the underlying network.
The Google search appliance can tap into applications from partners including Oracle Corp., SalesForce.com Inc., SAS Institute Inc. and Cognos Inc. and put data from them in a box for anyone authorized to view it, Girouard said. As an example, he showed a search for "east coast sales" that brought up a box with a small graph of rising and falling sales numbers.
Terry McLachlan, an IT program director at General Dynamics Corp., in Falls Church, Virginia, wasn't aware Google's enterprise product could find and call up information from back-end applications. He thinks Google's appliance is worth investigating as a less expensive and more user-friendly alternative to business intelligence tools such as those from Cognos. Those tools do a good job of gathering data from applications and letting users slice and dice it, but employees need to be trained how to use them, McLachlan said. They already know how to use Google.
Interop continues through Thursday.