Google Buddies Up With BearingPoint

Technology consulting firm BearingPoint launched a new enterprise search practice centered around the Google Search Appliance.

BearingPoint will resell the search appliance, as well as its services, to extend Google search to aging databases and homegrown applications, known as “information silos,” for their inability to share data with other systems.

Google’s sales pitch for its enterprise appliance is that it’s simple to set up, and that hasn’t changed, according to Dave Girouard, general manager of Google Enterprise.

“We still have a situation where the vast majority of customers — more than 90 percent — can get the box up and running and serving search results in the week they get it. That’s never changed as a goal or as a reality,” Girouard said.

“But many times the customer has one project they focus on, but there’s a lot of other content that could be searchable through the box. In many cases, to get to all that other content there is definitely work to be done.”

For example, a company might have a custom-built customer relationship management (CRM) application that it would like to be able to search. That’s where BearingPoint comes in.

BearingPoint is building a technology platform that will not only make more applications searchable, but also use search to bring data from one application to another.

“If you going to make a difference you have to bring some tech to the table, and we certainly do,” said Chris Weitz, managing director of BearingPoint.

His company is building software that will act as a companion platform to the Google Search Appliance, which he said would be faster and easier than middleware or enterprise application integration software.

BearingPoint’s Google integration services, according to Weitz, will aid enterprises that have a great deal of distributed data on many platforms, usually in information silos.

A recent customer survey asked Google Search Appliance customers what percentage of their corporate information was accessible to the appliance.

Girouard said that while some reported that over half of the information was searchable, a large proportion reported that only 10 to 20 percent could be searched. The goal, he said, is for more than 90 percent of a company’s documents to be available for search.

Based in its Mountain View, Calif. office, the BearingPoint search practice plans to extend Google’s enterprise search capabilities by offering customers plug-ins and extensions tailored for industry verticals, such as pharmaceuticals, banking, brokerage, high-tech and aerospace. It will also provide additional security and management features.

Both companies will offer each other’s services as appropriate: BearingPoint will suggest the Google Search Appliance when appropriate for customers, and Google will refer customers that want to integrate custom or legacy applications to the consulting firm.

“They drive a lot of big projects with very big companies at the CIO level,” Girouard said. “Their approach is not to say, ‘We think you need a search appliance.’ It’s more high-level and strategic than that, that’s the beauty of it.

That’s what BearingPoint brings to this that we don’t have ourselves. We’re a product company heavily focused on search, and they’re a services company.”

Google’s enterprise business more than doubled in 2005, and Girouard said that penetration into the Fortune 2000 for both the search appliance and Google Desktop Search for Enterprise, released in May 2005, was good. But Google hopes the BearingPoint connection will help it penetrate further.

The two have been engaged in pilot projects with Fortune 100 customers for about six months. Weitz said his company could get them running in five to eight weeks for “reasonable sums.”

He wouldn’t discuss pricing, but he said that BearingPoint’s analysis showed that other enterprise search systems cost three to five times than BearingPoint expects to charge for labor, hardware, software and customer time.

Besides lower cost, the two companies hope to tap into a trend they call “the consumerization of the enterprise.”

While there are many vendors of enterprise search software, Girouard said Google and BearingPoint hope to reinvent the category.

“It’s been, in our view, an underserved market with very complex technology that hasn’t had much adoption,” he said. “We see a trend of the consumerization of enterprise technology: products that are simple and just work and focus on the user experience.”

Added Weitz: “People are unwilling to put up with old, clunky applications. They just want it to work like Google works.”

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