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Does 'to the cloud' mean the same thing as 'let's Google that'?


Indexing a Cloud with Google Technology
A business can install a Google Search Appliance -- shown here in a screen capture from a Google promotional video -- behind its firewall to apply powerful indexing and searching features to protected cloud resources.
A business can install a Google Search Appliance -- shown here in a screen capture from a Google promotional video -- behind its firewall to apply powerful indexing and searching features to protected cloud resources.
Screen capture by HowStuffWorks staff

While the short answer to the title question of this article is "no," that doesn't mean Google technology can't play a role in the cloud. Businesses that have a lot of internal data to sift through on a regular basis could benefit from Google's search power. Google has capitalized on this by creating Google Search Solutions for business.

The first product that could help in the cloud is the Google Search Appliance (GSA). The GSA is a bright yellow server that a business can purchase and install on its private network. Once it's installed and configured, a GSA will crawl the resources openly available on the company's intranet. The newest models of the GSA have the additional feature of indexing a company's cloud content, even if the cloud resources are located off-site.

What this means for a company's intranet users is that they can find the internal resources they need just by "Googling" for them. Instead of using Google, though, a user browses to an internal Web page with resembles Google.com. The search results from that app are all from the GSA's index rather than from Google.com.

A business doesn't have to be concerned with data security when adding a GSA to its network. This is because the GSA is behind the company's firewall and inaccessible outside its intranet. As a result, the index on a GSA should be as safe as the content it's indexing. The GSA has a number of features to enhance searches and to integrate with other network resources, such as Microsoft SharePoint collaboration software.

Another Google product that can enhance cloud searching is the Google Mini. The Google Mini is a small blue server that functions similar to a GSA, but with fewer enhanced features. The Google Mini is more suited to small businesses that need the GSA's indexing and search capabilities, but have fewer documents to index.

Pricing for each of these products, the Google Search Appliance and the Google Mini, is based on the number of documents the server should be capable of indexing. The documents a single GSA could index goes from 500,000 to more than 30 million, and prospective customers are asked to contact Google for a price quote on either a two- or three-year GSA license. A two-year Google Mini license starts at a few thousand dollars for indexing 50,000 documents, and the price increases for the number of documents you want to search.

In this article, we've answered the question with a look at how information storage and searching differ between a cloud and Google. We also went a step beyond that to see how business can apply Google's features to help find internal resources, including those stored in the cloud. For even more on the differences between accessing information in the cloud and via Google, browse on to the next page.


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