Google offers on-site services to Search Appliance buyers

The welcome to new customers allows them two days of service at no extra cost

Some companies that buy Google's Search Appliance enterprise search device will receive two days of on-site services at no additional cost as part of a special promotion to "welcome" new customers.

The program, called ROI JumpStart, is currently available to companies in the U.S. and Canada that buy a Search Appliance with capacity for at least a million documents, Google announced on Tuesday.

The two-day service engagements will be provided by Google approved partners with expertise on Search Appliance configuration, deployment and training, Google said. The ROI JumpStart offer runs until Sept. 30.

Although the ROI acronym usually stands for "return on investment," Google uses it in this promotion to mean "return on information," since the Search Appliance is designed to help employees find a wide variety of corporate data more easily.

It will be interesting to see how attractive this offer is to prospective Search Appliance customers, since Google has designed the product to be easy for IT administrators to configure and install out of the box, a key selling point for the device.

In positioning the Search Appliance, Google has argued that the enterprise search market has been historically dominated by sophisticated products that are costly and difficult to implement and use.

Google has tried to attract under-served customers with the Search Appliance, an aggressively priced, low-to-midrange product designed to be simple to install, maintain and use.

By offering the on-site services at no extra cost, Google hopes to help customers accelerate and boost the benefits of using the Search Appliance, the company said.

Still, this special offer can be viewed as an acknowledgement by Google that out-of-the-box, self-service implementations of the Search Appliance may not be appropriate for organizations with complex enterprise search requirements, IDC analyst Susan Feldman said.

"The idea for the Search Appliance was to simplify search but there are some things that you can't do to simplify it. It really is complex once you get into multiple databases, multiple sources of information, multiple [document] formats and multiple kinds of users and types of uses. In those cases, the one-size-fits-all approach is really not an option," Feldman said.

There is definitely a return on investment associated with having good tools for accessing, managing and collaborating on information, so it's crucial for organizations to give employees adequate tools for finding and working with information they need for their jobs, she said.

Otherwise, employees waste valuable work time, which drives up costs for their employers, said Feldman, who recently authored a study about this topic titled "Hidden Costs of Information Work".

"This is Google's admission, now that they've had a number of years in the enterprise search business, that complexity really does require some consulting if [the Search Appliance] is going to be used for high-end search," she added.

In June, Google announced a revamped software architecture for the Search Appliance as well as a new high-end model, lifting the product's maximum indexing capacity to billions of documents and making it easier to scale it up.

Google sells the Search Appliance as a hardware box loaded with enterprise search software designed to let companies index and retrieve the data in their corporate systems, such as applications, document management tools, databases, Web servers and files.

The software is based on the technology the company uses in its Web search engines, like Google.com.

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