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Google still has a long way to go in the enterprise

Google still has a long way to go in the enterprise

It has a lot to learn about bringing its search technology into large enterprises.

While Google continues to clean up in the search engine market on the Web-far outpacing its closest rivals-the enterprise search market is a much different story, according to analysts, who say Google has a lot to learn about bringing its search technology into large enterprises.

In the consumer search market, the Internet company's dominance could not be more pronounced. Recent numbers by Hitwise, a research firm that measures search engine audiences, showed that Google continues its chokehold on the consumer search market, accounting for 65 per cent of all searches in the United States last month. The nearest rival, Yahoo, trailed Google with 21 per cent, followed by MSN.com (7 per cent) and Ask.com] (4 per cent).

Google showed a 5 per cent increase over last year, while Yahoo grew by 1 per cent.

But search experts say Google's dominance on the consumer search market won't translate into significant market share among business users until it customizes its Search Appliance to meet the needs of old legacy systems and complex IT infrastructures. According to analysts, Google's Search Appliance lacks good administration features for corporate IT departments as they try to ensure that the tool connects properly with back-end databases that have been around for years (or, in some cases, decades).

"You can't just plug it in and have it work," says Sue Feldman, an IDC analyst who specializes in search.

Feldman estimates that the Google search appliance for businesses accounts for only 1 per cent (or less) of the company's overall revenue of US$10 billion.

Meanwhile, Chris Sherman, president of consultancy Searchwise, says that other players in the corporate search market, such as Verity, Autonomy and Fast, have worked at perfecting customized user interfaces and strong back-end support to capitalize on Google's weaknesses.

"Google allows tweaks to its user interface, but they don't give you anywhere near the customization that others [enterprise search companies] do," he says.

In addition, Microsoft's enterprise search server has beenreviewed favourably by analysts, who say it can scale to many different types of servers and gives IT the administration access features it wants from a search appliance.

IDC's Feldman says that kind of customization includes better use of categorizing information (think: tagging and taxonomies on the Web), not just relying on the user to type in the specific keyword. While Feldman notes Google has begun to add such capabilities, "they haven't caught up just yet."

Sherman says that Google also needs to dedicate more sales personnel to selling the Search Appliance to corporate IT leaders with budgetary discretion. "The enterprise search companies with good market share have sales forces used to working with IT departments," he says. "Until recently, Google's appliance has been the stepchild to their Web search and ad business."

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