Farewell Google Mini - What Next for Google Search Appliance?
I have to admit reading Google's recent "Spring Cleaning" announcement marking the official passing of the Google Mini left me feeling somewhat nostalgic. Back in 2005 -- when the little blue box for first announced -- I was a proud owner of one of the first devices shipped in the UK. On a development floor containing around 50 people, a fair-sized crowd gathered for the unboxing, during the course of which the web team had a minor disagreement over the ownership of the Google t-shirt packaged with the documentation.
During the first few weeks, the operations staff would make a pilgrimage to the corner of the machine room that contained our server racks to gaze lovingly at the appliance (although personally, I thought the F5 "Big IP" load leveler just above it was equally as pretty, with its glowing red orb on the fascia). For all I know 7 years on, that original Mini might still be there, but I suspect during those intervening years, visits to its rack have considerably diminished. Why ? Let's just say some of Google's shine has tarnished as an enterprise search provider.
The remaining hardware offering -- the big yellow "Google Search Appliance" -- now stands alone and apart from almost everything in their product catalog, supported by a microscopically small team and seemingly without any real development effort to fill some of the functional and supplier gaps we recognize in our research. On his recent visit to London to speak at the Enterprise Search Summit, Google's Matt Eichner talked in broad brush strokes about the importance of enterprise search without revealing an specific ways in which Google planned to continue to support this sector. I would have asked, but Eichner wasn't taking questions (the only speaker during the conference who refused to interact with attendees). Make of that what you will.
The truth that we have all come to realize within the lifecycle of the Mini is that Google is not a search company. In 2012, search exists as a shortcut for us to help Google target advertising. It is difficult to see how GSA supports that aim, and as such, I wonder whether the yellow box will follow its little blue brother into the sunset some day.