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Making room for appliances

Search is complicated. To reduce the hassle of enterprise search deployment, search appliances make plug-and-play system rollout a reality. Google and Thunderstone  introduced new versions of their appliances, adding features to their search "toasters." Let’s look at both.

Google’s Search Appliance (GSA) includes new features and new models. The company’s GB 7007 and GB 9009 models are based on Dell’s PowerEdge R710 server. The new models consist of two components, one for content processing and one for index storage.

The company is in the process of revamping its product line, and the new models run Version 6.0, which is not compatible with older GSA models.

Among the important features in the new Version 6.0 system are enhancements to security, including the feature of early binding, which adds control to the display of search results. Administrative controls are giving licensees more control of the system; e.g., hit boosting. Google’s application programming interfaces open up some interesting integration possibilities.

The new system also includes a Web part (essentially a connector) that makes integration with Microsoft SharePoint painless. With 100 million SharePoint licenses in organizations, the Web part allows Google to put more pressure on Microsoft.

Founded in 1981, Thunderstone was one of the first search vendors to offer a search appliance. Now in Version 7.0, Thunderstone extends its high-performance, flexible appliance with a number of new features, including an enhanced metasearch feature that pulls together information from multiple collections or resources, additional support for Unicode and a refresh of the system’s administrative interface.

The appliance is built on Thunderstone’s core development environment (called TEXIS). Target applications include online publishing, interactive catalogs, classified advertising, digital asset management and Web searching.

One of the strengths of Thunderstone is its support for text search with relational databases. The firm’s search technology is flexible, and administrators and developers have excellent control over the system.

The system now supports crawling MySQL databases as well as Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, Sybase and PostgreSQL. Thunderstone’s tuning controls are feature rich and include the ability to schedule, stop, pause or configure database crawls in the same way as they can for file servers, Web servers, intranet servers, etc.

Security is another strong point in the Thunderstone appliance. In many enterprise search situations, not every user is entitled to see every document indexed.

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