Google Enterprise Search (GSA 7.0) First Impression

Over the last few weeks, I have had the opportunity to work and play around with the Google Search Appliance Version 7.0, and I must say that it’s an interesting piece of technology. Varying opinions, such as “Yeah, GSA is cool, but it can’t do X, Y, or Z,” have prevented many people from adopting the Google offering as a real Enterprise Search solution. Thanks to the new version, most of those limitations are a thing of the past. The platform is much more mature than previous versions. You can sense that Google is really making the effort required to improve its search platform so that it properly addresses the needs of the Enterprise market. It’s not just about web content anymore.

Personally, I think that the addition of the Entity Recognition feature is really the main focus point of this new version. This simple, little piece adds tremendous possibility in terms of classification and categorization of content. It also opens the doors to data manipulation and content homogenization. I am convinced that once GSA administrators have tasted the power of this feature, a ton of feature requests will come into Google. I am confident we’ll see Google build and improve on this new functionality.

Another interesting addition for the GSA is the document-preview feature. Some of our Exalead clients have enjoyed using this feature for a while now, and it’s a welcomed addition to the appliance. Visual preview of a document really helps a user target the right piece of information, especially if the user is looking for something that has already been seen but can’t remember where it was stored. Was it on SharePoint, on the Wiki, in DM, the Network File . . . maybe on the Intranet portal? Document preview also facilitates making a choice faster between documents with the same content but different layout.

One thing to note is that the more features you have, the more settings you have. This can be felt in the administrative interface of GSA 7. It’s not overwhelming or confusing, but there are quite a few more check boxes and options than before. It’s still pretty simple to navigate if you are doing simple indexing, but when you use the more advanced features, it can take a few minutes to find the right spot to change something.

All in all, I am really impressed with this new release. I can’t wait to see what else Google is going to surprise us with in the next few versions.

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David serves as Vice-President of Professional Services at Norconex, where he currently leads our team of highly qualified enterprise search specialists. Mr. Gaulin manages projects across North America for clients ranging from law firms to government agencies, helping them select, architect and implement enterprise search solutions tailored to their needs.