Replacing Google Search Appliance: 4 Reasons to think outside the box

13 October, 2016

Google announced earlier this year that it is sunsetting its first business-centered product: The Google Search Appliance (GSA). Maybe you knew this day would come, but it doesn’t make the reality any less complicated. Companies everywhere are left wondering: what do we do now?

Launched in 2002, GSA brought Google search smarts to business database and site search. Not only was it smart, but GSA was secure. Google’s peppy, little (once purple) yellow boxes sat nicely in companies’ server trays, promising speed and security. While it has largely been both, Google is acknowledging with this pivot that the future of site and database search is cloud-based.

It’s time to think outside the box.

This may sound scary. Regardless of whether it is actually safer or not, having a physical box on site that contains your documents and data feels far more secure than releasing it all to the ether. But this is not the case. From cost to security, there are many convincing reasons to consider a cloud-based, hosted solution when replacing GSA. If you’re going to be forced to replace GSA in the near future, why not do it sooner than later, and why not upgrade, as opposed to making a lateral move and finding a mere replacement for GSA?

1. Hosted solution provides more options and more security

Each GSA box could only contain a limited number of docs, causing many companies to purchase multiple. These limitations are also expensive, as each additional box jacked up the subscription prices. An off-site, hosted solution provides much more flexibility in terms of space, and further than that, cloud-hosted solutions actually offer increased security because they are typically (like ImConnect’s) run by a partner that specializes in hosting and has invested ample resources in security.

2. Specialized “smart” search has improved upon GSA

At the time of its launch, GSA innovated site and database search with specialized search. Now, there are search options available that have outsmarted GSA with more specialization, meaning more heterogeneous, or diverse, results. Users are used to very specialized search experiences on e-commerce sites (like Amazon), which allow users to dump queries without knowing what exactly they’re searching for.

A quality search platform is meant to provide options to help users along during the search process, to help them further understand what they are searching for, as opposed to assuming they already know exactly what they want. Take older site searches with “advanced search” options, for example (some sites still use this). This is an ironic term because, while the user is typically presented with more boxes to check, it assumes the user has an even more precise idea of what he or she is looking for, and the search actually becomes much simpler and combs less. You could say that “advanced search” actually means a dumber search.

GSA improved upon this homogenous type of search, but your GSA upgrade can be even more specialized and provide users with a variety of results, enticing them to stay on site. In healthcare, for example, a user should be able to search health triggers or symptoms they need help with, and then be served local physicians, as well as helpful content in their search results. Healthcare site searches often, unfortunately, serve homogenous results and force patients to choose to search for a doctor or content, but this again assumes they knew what they need. After all, if patients knew exactly what they needed, they wouldn’t need a doctor anyway, right?

3. Dramatically increased search traffic

Inova, a top-100 health system in the Washington DC area, needed to replace their Google Search Appliance and they called us. They didn’t need a replacement due to the GSA being sunset; their issues were performance-related. They were having to reboot their crashing GSAs on a daily basis and they wanted a more reliable upgrade. After we loaded and launched our hosted solution, ImConnect, onto their site search, Inova saw their Inova.org search traffic double. How they take advantage of that traffic is up to Inova, but it’s a great problem to have for any health system or company.

4. It’s cheaper!

GSA is priced based on a licensing structure for two to three years and the annual cost is per number of documents. Google doesn’t release these exact prices, but it is generally anywhere from $30k to $60k each year. Parting ways with the box in favor of an off-site, cloud-based, hosted solution will cut those prices down significantly. Leaving the security, hosting, and maintenance to the trustworthy experts will be an upgrade in all those regards, and you’ll save money. Not only is the hosted solution cheaper itself, but there’s additional hidden savings when considering the opportunity cost savings of not having to invest in internal security and hosting resources.

ImConnect is an excellent choice for your GSA replacement. If you’re interested in increasing your search traffic like Inova has, at a lower cost than your GSA, we’d love to talk to you!

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