Enterprise Search: Dave Girouard on Taking Google to the CorporationBy Baselinemag | Posted 2006-05-02 Email Print
Can the search company do for enterprise data what it did for the Web?
When it comes to making sense of the overwhelming volume of data that's been unleashed upon the world over the past ten years, no company has had more of an impact than Mountain View, Calif.-based Google Inc. Anyone who had the misfortune of using Alta Vista as their primary search engine in the early 1990s can attest to that.
But as much as Google has insinuated itself into the very fabric of Internet culture, capturing consumer mindshare in leaps and bounds, the company has yet to offer much of value to corporations. In the same way that consumers were set adrift in a sea of endless information in the early days of the Web, enterprises are now drowning in data sets of their own. And the problem is only getting worse.
That's why Google has Dave Girouard, general manager of Google's budding enterprise business. Dave's job is pretty simple: apply to enterprise data the same revolutionary search technology that organized the Web. To do that, Google is working with business application vendors to make the data locked away inside various structured tables and proprietary software available to a simple, intuitive search engine. And in the process, Google is aiming to become the primary interface for all enterprise applications. Executive Editor Dan Briody spoke with Girouard about Google's ambitious plans. An edited version of their conversation follows.
CIO INSIGHT: What can Google do for the enterprise?
GIROUARD: The enterprise is obviously not where Google began, but the company was founded in 1998 with some very ambitious goals to organize the world's information. That was really the substance of Larry [Page] and Sergey [Brin]'s goal when they started the company, and it explains a lot of the things Google does. You know, organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.
The enterprise is a subset of that. Information access is a big problem in the enterprise. It affects hundreds of millions of people on a daily basis and it's a thorny problem. We think it's one that Google is uniquely qualified to solve. We don't see ourselves as a Web-search company. We don't see ourselves as a consumer company. We see ourselves as an information company.
What Google really needed to do over the past few years was build an organization, and a set of capabilities, so we could go after this enterprise part of the problem. We're able to tap into a lot of the core intellectual property and capabilities of Google, but we also had to develop a lot of new capabilities to channel that expertise into the enterprise.
So have you been meeting with CIOs to gain the knowledge that you needed to address this market?
Well, like a lot of things at Google, we started out very small. We got something into the market very quickly that could provide us with an incredible amount of feedback in a short period of time. That's what we did back in 2002 with the first version of the Google search appliance.
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