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Google releases enterprise desktop search tool

Increased search capability to sift corporate info-piles

Google plans to make available from today a desktop search tool tailored for the workplace, about eight months after it introduced a similar tool for consumers.

The workplace tool, called Google Desktop Search for the Enterprise, is expected to be available for free download at http://desktop.google.com/enterprise.

Google decided to develop the product because it received many requests for a workplace version of the consumer desktop search tool, a spokesperson said.

Like its cousin, Google Desktop Search for the Enterprise is designed to let users find information stored in their PCs, such as email messages, word processing documents, spreadsheet files and photos.

"Information is growing at insane rates, especially in the business environment," said the spokesperson. "The average person in the workplace can't find what they're looking for anymore [in their PCs]. There is so much information that they're overwhelmed."

The two products, which are free, share a feature that has been a tad controversial in the consumer tool: they take snapshots on the fly of every webpage a user views and index the content. Some users have expressed concern this might be counterproductive if sensitive or confidential information is captured as a user surfs the web, such as credit card numbers, passwords and online banking information. Users can configure both tools not to capture secure HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol over Secure Socket Layer) Web pages.

Unlike the consumer product, Google Desktop Search for the Enterprise has a series of installation, distribution, management and security features for IT departments to use when rolling out and configuring the product for their users. For example, all user data and index files can be encrypted, and an installer package is included for enterprise-wide distribution. Also, the tool can create different indexes in a machine that is used by different people, and it can ensure each index is accessible only to the user for which it was created.

Another feature found only in this enterprise version of the product is the ability to index email messages from IBM's Lotus Notes platform, support which was made possible through a collaboration between Google and IBM. The plan is to extend this support in future upgrades to other Lotus Notes data such as calendar entries and applications built on top of this IBM system.

Google Desktop Search for the Enterprise is also integrated with the company's enterprise search tools, called Google Search Appliance and Google Mini, which companies use to index information residing on their servers. For example, when a user runs a query against the Google Search Appliance or Google Mini, the enterprise desktop search tool automatically launches that query on the user's PC.

With this move into the enterprise desktop search space, Google will compete against established players such as X1 Technologies and Autonomy It will also compete against Microsoft, who this week announced its intention to develop an enterprise desktop search tool, which should be available in beta form by the end of the year.

The Google news doesn't come as a surprise. A Google official acknowledged to IDG News Service in January that the company was developing a desktop search tool for the enterprise market.


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