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Applications & OS News

Google Desktop Search Goes Corporate

Barbara Darrow

Google, which has won the hearts and minds of millions of Web surfers with its Internet search capabilities, is seeking a home in the workplace.

And Dave Girouard, general manager of Google's enterprise business, said the company "absolutely" plans to include third-party integrators in this push.

Google, Mountain View, Calif., is building an environment "where creative individuals and service-oriented companies can take our corporate search technology to places we haven't even thought of. We would like to make [our products] available to customers in as many ways as possible," he said.

Last week, Google Desktop Search added the ability to search Lotus Notes contents through a deal with IBM Lotus Software. It was already capable of handling Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint, as well as PDF files and AOL Instant Messenger chat archives.

While the software remains free, many observers see this latest move as an important foray into business accounts, where Google already offers a search appliance and its Mini search service for small and midsize companies.

"While [Google is] obviously used by people in enterprises, it's mostly used by consumers, so the first desktop product was targeted at consumer use. Now, they're launching an evolution of the product with enterprise capabilities," said Sean Poulley, vice president of business development at IBM Lotus, which partnered with Google to create the Notes search capability.

Anyone who thinks Google cannot be a factor in the enterprise software market should think again, said Stewart Bloom, CEO of GERS Retail Systems, an ISP in San Diego. "They have tremendous credibility. They haven't missed a beat in delivering their services and making good decisions with their post-IPO capital," he said. "They are positioned to provide value through the management of information. At the enterprise level, the analogy is to instant messaging, which moved quickly from being a consumer toy to being a legitimate tool within companies."

Like instant-messaging applications, though, Google's goods must be compliant with existing security and management infrastructure, he said.

It is clear that both Google and IBM Lotus see their alliance as a source of strength vs. Microsoft, which is diving headfirst into Internet and business search.

By some accounts, Microsoft has supplanted IBM Lotus as the largest provider of corporate e-mail systems. But longer term, Google could parlay expertise from its free Gmail service into a business offering, Bloom and others said. For many companies, outsourcing e-mail is the way to go, he said.

Some watchers doubt that Google, which has succeeded spectacularly offering software direct to users "gets" the channel.

But Google CEO Eric Schmidt spent years at Novell and Sun Microsystems. "[These are] both heavy channel companies. He gets it," said Rob Wolfe, president of AvcomEast, a VAR in Silver Springs, Md.

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