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Google Next Up on Universal Enterprise Search

Google is preparing to launch the fifth generation of its enterprise search appliance, this time adding "universal search" features that can access other enterprise content management systems such as those from EMC, IBM and Microsoft, InternetNews.com has learned.

According to an internal document from the company, Google Search Appliance version 5.0 will include universal search capabilities for secure access to major enterprise content management systems. This will include EMC Documentum, IBM FileNet, OpenText Livelink and Microsoft Sharepoint.

Search results from those systems will now be returned as part of the appliance's universal search results, alongside data culled from Web pages, images, video and books across an enterprise's network.

It also features improved access control enhancements, designed to ensure the security of a customer's enterprise content. For example, the appliance enables secure crawling and serving of file system content, as well as added support for Microsoft Windows Integrated Authentication (WIA) and a SAML-based authentication and authorization API , according to the Google document.

The company first announced its universal search ambitions at an event last May. As InternetNews.com reported, Google claimed at the time that it had taken the "critical first steps" toward achieving that goal.

In addition to universal search, the Google Search Appliance also offers overall improvements in "reach, security and relevance," according to the internal document.

There's also more than the latest features to Google's enterprise search appliance. InternetNews.com has learned that Google is also about to unveil Google Enterprise Labs, which it bills in the internal document as a "site dedicated to improving the search experience inside of business by providing early access to search innovations ... including: Search-as-you-Type, Do-it-Yourself (or Wiki) KeyMatches, Parametric Search and Filtering."

Enterprise business represents a major effort for the search giant. According to the document, the company has more than 600 of its employees dedicated purely to the area. That's likely a smart move for the company if it wishes to better compete: Google routinely gets high marks for its consumer-facing search, as well as for the flurry of applications it's rolled out to users, but the company is considered a beginner in enterprise search, and in need of improvement.

In addition, all the major search providers, as well as lesser-known players, are already touting universal search products. Yahoo, for example, launched Universal Search only last week.

IBM also joined with Yahoo in December to launch OmniFind Yahoo Edition, a free, entry-level enterprise search service. The product provides search across about 500,000 documents, supports more than 200 file types and 30 languages and offers document translation into 15 languages.

While Google is facing entrenched competition with enterprise-focused universal search, separate efforts to push universal search in its consumer-facing business -- integrating online news stories, videos and images with traditional Web page results -- are being viewed as a potential boon for some of its marketing clients.

That's especially true for B2B search marketers, who now can avail themselves to different types of digital content, as opposed to relying just on standard Web page optimization.

According to an August post on noted search engine blog SearchEngineLand.com, "Universal Search provides B2B marketers with a unique opportunity to expand their Web search presences more creatively. Now that Google has busted open their silos -- essentially creating equality between all types of digital content -- B2B search marketing efforts must branch out beyond their staple of Web pages. Failing to do so could lead to a competitive disadvantage."

Danny Sullivan, editor-in-chief of the site, called Google's universal search "the most radical change to its search results ever."



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