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Google upgrades business search tools

Cut down on clicks with Google Mini

Google plans to revamp its enterprise search devices today when it announces an updated version of Google Mini for small and medium-sized businesses and an upgrade to its Search Appliance for larger organisations.

The Search Appliance upgrade includes a feature called OneBox, which lets the engine identify the overall intent of certain queries and compile and present certain data at the top of the search results list that may satisfy the user's information needs.

OneBox, which already exists on the Google.com search engine, is meant to save users from having to click on search results by presenting them with a digest of data.

For example, the Google.com search engine returns at the top of search results a box with current weather data for London if a user enters that city's name along with the term "weather". It has others for stock information, package tracking and airline flight times.

Now, the Search Appliance will be able to replicate this feature for workplace information, such as human resources data, sales transaction details and employee contact and calendar information.

To activate the Search Appliance's OneBox functionality, users need to download free modules built for this purpose. There will be about 20 ready from today that will allow the Search Appliance to create OneBox digests of data gathered from applications from Cisco, Cognos, Oracle, Microsoft, SAP and Salesforce.com, among others. Google is also publishing an open API (application programming interface) to let any developer create OneBox modules for the Search Appliance.

Other enhancements to the Search Appliance include improved security and authentication capabilities and more relevant results. The device's performance has been improved through software, with a 500 percent increase in queries per second and a 100 percent increase in its index size.

The Search Appliance upgrade will be made available to existing customers before the end of the month via a free software download download. On this web page, users will find information about the OneBox modules, as well as resources for developers, including software development kits and documentation.

Google plans to begin shipping a version of the Google Mini that is half the size and weight of the current one but able to process 25 queries per second, up from 1 query per second. This next-generation Google Mini will cost the same as current versions of the product.

The Search Appliance and Google Mini are hardware devices loaded with search engine software designed to let companies index and retrieve information stored on corporate servers.

The Google Mini starts at $1,995 (about £1,125) with a capacity to index as many as 50,000 documents, while the Search Appliance starts at $30,000 (£17,000) with a 500,000-document capacity.

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