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Google's Enterprise Search Talks Many Tongues

Looking to further distinguish its enterprise search offerings, Google today unwrapped a new "Cross-Language Search" service.

Developed by Google's Enterprise Labs, CLS is designed to let employees search and find internal company documents written in any language, by instantly translating search results into the language of the query.

Cross-Language Search, designed for Google's Search Appliance (GSA), covers 34 different languages and leverages translation technology Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) developed for its popular Web search and browser toolbar.

Cyrus Mistry, enterprise product manager at Google, said the search giant was able to use the machine translation technology it's put to use on billions of documents already in developing CLS.

"It's especially relevant to companies with diverse workforces," Mistry told InternetNews.com. "Or it can also be very useful if English isn't your native language."

Administrators can tailor the translation features depending on user and company needs. For example, it's probably not necessary to do a search on a document in all languages, but if, for example, you have a branch office in France, there may be documents in French you want to be able to find and read in English.

Google said, for example, a sales team in Paris searching for the Q4 "rapport trimestriel" can find and read quarterly reports in French - even if they were written in English. Conversely, a marketing team in Texas can find and read the white papers developed by their German counterparts in Hamburg.

Mistry said existing GSA customers can add Cross Language to their systems with 50 lines of JavaScript code Google is providing.

Mistry also said retrieval of translated results shouldn't be noticeably longer than a typical Google search, which clocks in at 0.7 seconds. "Most queries tend to be very short. The average search on Google is 1.7 keywords," he said.

But Mistry also emphasized Google's enterprise search is different "under the covers" than its consumer service. "It's a completely different set of algorithms, because you're solving very different problems and not dealing with things like spam and porn, so our approach is different," he said.

Three enterprise graduates and counting

Google's Enterprise Labs is a test bed for new services for customers or other interested parties. Based on how they perform in the field and feedback from customers, the services are further refined and may eventually "graduate" to finish product status, as three already have.

Cross-Language Search is the tenth release from the labs Google's churned out since its launch in the fall of 2007. Google released several new services from the labs this year including Related Web Results, Google Sites Integration and Google Site Search OneBox.

Mistry said it's not unusual for Google to transform or evolve one of its consumer services to an enterprise version. "The minute there's a neat technology, like our SearchWiki, I get a flood of e-mail internally, including from my boss, that says 'We have to add this'," he said.

"We're not short on great ideas," added Mistry. "It's a matter of what to prioritize. For larger businesses with a diverse workforce, we think Cross-Language Search is a game changer."