Google makes enterprise search push

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Google on Wednesday unveiled a series of partnerships with enterprise software companies such as Oracle, Salesforce.com and Cisco Systems, which it hopes will help push its search software further into the business market.

Google is hoping to become the preferred technology for searching for documents and information within company computer systems, in the same way it dominates search on the internet.

It launched its first enterprise search product in 2002, and has since won more than 3,500 customers.

However, Google’s enterprise search software has been criticised for lacking the security features required by businesses and for being ill-suited to searching through the patchwork of applications and data sources that make up corporate networks.

Google is now hoping to address these issues by launching a new version of the search product with increased security, and by working more closely with business software application vendors.

Oracle and Google’s other business software partners are building new features into their software, which will make them easier to search with Google’s technology.

Specialist search software companies, such as Autonomy and Fast Search and Transfer, said they were not concerned about Google’s redoubled efforts to penetrate the market, arguing that Google was still competing at the lower end of the market for very basic keyword search technology.

“We don’t compete in that space,” said Mike Lynch, chief executive of Autonomy. “We did a hundred deals last quarter and didn’t come up against Google in any of them.”

Mr Lynch estimates that Google’s enterprise search threatened only the company’s basic Ultraseek keyword business, which accounts for about 2 per cent of revenues.

The simpler end of enterprise search is seeing increased competition, as a number of companies – including Microsoft, Oracle and IBM – have all recently introduced basic keyword search products.

“It is a bloodbath down there. Simple keyword search technology will probably be free by the end of the year,” Mr Lynch said.

John Lervik, chief executive of Fast, suggested that Google’s move was less about taking market share from search companies, than it was about challenging Microsoft for dominance of the computer desktop.

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