Google Desktop Search is not suitable for enterprise search

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GDS [Google Desktop Search ] is a great desktop search and i have been using it for more than 2 years now. I swear by it — however not for Intranet search… No way..

I have lost count on how many times i have been asked ‘Why can’t we use Google Desktop Search as our intranet search?’.

A sample conversation:

Users:
After all, out intranet search is not soo good; it is slow, we have to search different intranets separately and so on…
Why can’t we install a Google Desktop search on a server and let it index all the documents?
Me: How does this address the issues of ‘ having to search different intranets separately’?

Users: Well, you can have all the documents on a shared drive and google can index it form there! You silly — who made you incharge of corporate intranet application?
Me: Not that simple.
For one: Not all intranet data is represented as documents. There is data that comes from database, other applications etc..
Second: Even if all documents get indexed, how do you categorize and classify them as they are done currently? How will a user know if the document is a sales collateral as opposed to a case study?
Third: How will you handle the metadata around documents/artifacts currently in our intranets? How will the user know who the author is? Who the client it? How do you change the UI to reflect these changes?

Users:
GDS [Google Desktop Search] provides API that can be programmed. We can use that.. Don’t you know this also?
Me: I don’t think that Google does a good job of deleting documents/data from its index that are deleted from our intranets. This will lead to documents not existing in the intranet applications being shown in search results…
Me: Also: I don’t think that GDS crawler can address security at a document level. In an internet/desktop scenario, document security may not be an issue, but in an intranet scenario, access control over documents is pramaount. GDS when searching through the index willnot be able to apply role/permission based rendering of search results. This by itself is the biggest reason why GDS is not a suitable alternative for intranet search. And I am not talking about other percieved security issues/warnings that have been talked about GDS.

Me wondering: I think these points should put to rest why GDS is not a good option for Intranet search. Next time i will point them to this Blog. If this doesn’t work, then I will have to buy the pepper spray that I saw the other day 🙂

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