Google Inc. today is unveiling a souped-up version of a search product that businesses and other entities can use to identify and find documents and other information quickly within their own computer networks.
Dubbed "Google in a Box," the commercial product, formally known as the Google Search Appliance, runs on the same basic set of algorithms and search technology that has made Google popular with consumers looking for fast, relevant information on the Internet. However, unlike the free search engine found at Google.com -- through which the company profits through ads -- Google charges organizations a minimum of $32,000 for the search appliance for a two-year period.
"We are applying the same technology to solve a different problem for corporations, universities and government institutions," said Dave Girouard, Google's general manager for enterprise. "We had customers coming to us who said, 'Search doesn't work well within our company, and we wish it worked as well as Google does.' "
In late April, Google disclosed plans to sell stock to the public and released financial information showing that 95 percent of its revenue is from advertising sales. The company technically is operating in the "quiet period," during which it must avoid saying anything that might hype the public offering. But that has not stopped Google from discussing the release of a number of new products and services.
In the Washington area, a number of organizations already use an earlier version of Google's commercial search product, released in 2002. For example, the World Bank has about 10,000 employees in offices around the world who use the Google technology. At Nextel, the product is used by call-center operators to find information needed to answer customer questions about cell phones.
The product being rolled out today is five times faster than its predecessor, enabling it to handle 300 queries per minute, versus 60 before, with a single server called the GB1001 that can search through up to 1.5 million documents, versus 300,000 before.
Company officials said one advantage is that unlike complex commercial software that may take many months to install, the Search Appliance, which includes a yellow computer server with the Google logo and software, can be used within 30 minutes of plugging it in.