Google Bangs Application Drum

Search giant talks applications and end-user hassles at Interop

May 4, 2006

3 Min Read
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LAS VEGAS -- Google revealed more of its plans to crack the application market at Interop today, touting its new OneBox search appliance as way to change how firms access critical information.

During a keynote this morning, Dave Girouard, director of Google's enterprise division, explained that most firms have not tackled the key question of how their employees access data. "In the corporate market, in the enterprise, we are not delivering enough value to end users," he explained.

Simplicity, according to the exec, is currently lacking. "Employees are consumers, when they turn up for work in the morning, they don't suddenly turn into computer scientists that thrive on complexity," he says, adding that technology is generally designed with the business, rather than the end user, in mind.

The OneBox -- surprise, surprise -- is Google's attempt to tackle this problem. The device is essentially a rackable hardware unit capable of searching specific business applications, such as sales force automation, customer resource management (CRM), and enterprise resource planning (ERP). (See Google One-Ups Intranet Search and Google Intros OneBox.)

To illustrate this point, Girouard told Byte and Switch that the search giant currently has between 50 and 60 of the devices deployed behind Google, enabling users to search for the likes of FedEx packages and weather reports. "It has gone from being a search tool to what I would call an uber-command line interface to the world," explains the exec.Google has already enlisted Cisco, Cognos, Employease, Oracle,, NetSuite, and SAS to integrate their business applications with the new appliance. Oracle, for example, will offer financial information such as the status of purchase orders whereas Cisco is developing applications to access employee contact information.

Girouard told Byte and Switch that more partners are already on the cards, although he would not name names. "The uptake has been great," he explains. "There have been lots of companies beyond the ones that we have announced that are in development."

Although the OneBox was only launched a couple of weeks ago, Girouard sees the device supporting access from both PCs and mobile devices in future. "Its not too great a leap to think that OneBox could be a great vehicle for delivering lots of information to a non-PC device, because it has the effect of bringing a variety of information into a simple HTML presentation," he says.

"It could be done, there's nothing preventing it," explains Girouard. "It's just a matter of other things coming together such as employees having VPN access to non-PC devices."

But Girouard told Byte and Switch that SAN connectivity is unlikely to be a feature of the OneBox anytime soon. "That's not really the focus of it -- it's application level access," he says, although he adds that there is no reason why storage-based applications could not run on the platform.Future enhancement to the platform will focus on the likes of security and scalability, according to Girouard. "The things that we're always working on our search appliances are reach, security, scalability, and search quality," but, again, he was unwilling to divulge any specifics.

David Dean, network manager at Yuma County told Byte and Switch that he is keen to hear more about the OneBox device. "We would be interested in allowing [our] constituencies to get access to public information via a OneBox," he says, adding that the county could also tie its Geographical Information System (GIS) to Google Earth.

Girouard confirmed that Google now has a "handful" of customers for the OneBox.

— James Rogers, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

Organizations mentioned in this article:

  • Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)

  • Cognos Inc. (Nasdaq: COGN; Toronto: CSN)

  • Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)

  • NetSuite Inc.

  • Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL)

  • Inc.

  • SAS Institute Inc.0

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