Google is wooing enterprise customers with the forthcoming launch of a service that will let employees find information they need from multiple sources.
Cloud Search is a new service that will allow users to find content from their company email, cloud storage and directory. Directory lookup provides users not only with their colleagues’ contact details, but also information about shared files and calendar events. More than that, Cloud Search is also built to proactively help users access information they need.
When users log into Cloud Search either on the web or on their Android device, they’ll be greeted by “assist cards” that are supposed to highlight key files. At launch, those cards are built to show users files that are relevant for their upcoming calendar events, as well as those that require attention based on recent edits.
Cloud Search was first announced last year as Springboard, alongside a revamped Google Sites. The company is building more tools and features like Cloud Search that are designed to appeal to larger businesses as part of a push spearheaded by Google Cloud chief Diane Greene.
The service ought to encourage companies that are G Suite customers to bring more of their data and workflows into Google’s cloud productivity suite, according to Gartner Vice President Whit Andrews. By marrying calendar events, data and directory information, Cloud Search might help persuade companies to do things like move their calendar data out of Exchange and into Google Calendar.
“What this does is it ties together the Google properties in a way that makes it very attractive to someone who is willing to experiment with their vision for how we can be more productive,” he said.
Cloud Search will begin rolling out globally to G Suite Business and Enterprise customers starting next week, for no extra charge. It’s available in 28 languages. The service will be available right away for those customers who are a part of Google’s rapid release program. Customers who have chosen to delay updates will, naturally, get access to it later.
Users will only see files in Cloud Search that they’re allowed to, based on the sharing permissions attached to them. That way, someone from the marketing team can’t see a company’s HR records.
Right now, the service is designed to only work with files stored inside Google’s cloud, but the company is working to also integrate Cloud Search with third parties. Expanding the integrations available is a critical update, Andrews said.
“The most important thing Google can do in this area is respect that the complexity with which they deal so effectively in its direct, consumer-facing products is just as present, and is actually more present in the enterprise,” he said. “And Google gets that.”
Box looks like a strong contender for such an integration. The enterprise cloud storage company announced last year that it is working with Google to let joint customers store files from the company’s Docs, Sheets and Slides productivity software inside their Box accounts.
Google Cloud Product Manager Brent VerWeyst linked to that announcement in reference to Cloud Search’s potential third-party integrations on Tuesday.
The new service builds on Google’s history of working with businesses. The tech titan’s first product for companies was its Search Appliance, which customers could install in their data center to get Google search capabilities for their company data.
That product launched in 2002, and the company told partners last year that support for it will end in 2019. Google doesn’t yet have a replacement for searching files stored on-premises, and it’s unclear if the company plans one.
Ryan Tabone, a director of product management at Google, said last year that the company was evaluating expanding the product then known as Springboard to include files stored inside a company’s private data center. Google did not provide an update on what it’s currently thinking in that regard.
Andrews said Google didn’t necessarily have to expand Cloud Search’s functionality to on-premises storage, but doing so would keep it from being useful to a group of customers who still rely on keeping files stored in their own data centers.
“It depends whether [Google] wants to have the clients that have stuff on premises, which is pretty much everybody,” he said. “So almost every organization which has a history, has some on-premises stuff. Does Google want the subsections inside those organizations [using it] as clients? If so, the answer is yes, they should be [working with on-premises storage].”
What will be interesting to see is how Cloud Search evolves alongside Microsoft’s Delve product for its Office 365 customers, which is also supposed to help business users find relevant files that are shared with them. Both Microsoft and Google are locked in a tight battle to become the company that powers the productivity stack of companies in the future.