Google recently pulled the plug on its 14-year experiment selling search hardware to enterprises. Last week, the company informed its network of resellers that it has a year left, though support licenses would continue until 2019.

While Google claims that the GSA will be replaced by a yet-to-be announced cloud-based alternative — a “don’t hold your breath” statement if I ever heard one — the ease of use and licensing schemes will need to be reworked at the very least if they want to be on par with their open source brethren.

For me, this stirred some nostalgia. During my stint at Dell, I worked for a team that both sold and manufactured these units. For Dell, it wasn’t that complicated. Take a $1500 Dell Poweredge, put it into a $20 sunshine yellow case, slap on a $4 bezel with funny venting holes, install the Google image, layer on a 99 cent sticker, and — presto! — sell it for a $45k per node starting price with a Google Support contract. Anybody who has ever had to engage with Google support knows that it must be pure margin.

For a while, this business had momentum. In the mid-aughts, Google could do no wrong and many enterprise buyers bought the idea that all you had to do was plug it in, point it to the document repository, and you would have the Google in your intranet.

But, then, the business started losing steam as cloud computing became a thing and REALLY started tanking as open source alternatives like Solr/Lucene and Elasticsearch became the defacto enterprise search standards.

The truth

The first problem was that the product just wasn’t that good. Despite their claims, dealing with any data type other than HTML pages and plain text documents was kludgy at best. Security was difficult. Most customers couldn’t figure out how to either tune results or display. The latter was especially crucial for e-commerce merchants (and users of the now-defunct Google Commerce Search) where a rich search interface is crucial to driving conversions. When you see an intranet search that looks exactly like Google’s, you have probably stumbled upon one of their users.

Then, of course, customers realized that figuring out the total cost of ownership would require the combined computing power of the Google itself. Many customers got sticker shock when they realized what counted as “a document” in Google’s licensing scheme.

While Google claims that the GSA will be replaced by a yet-to-be-announced cloud-based alternative — a “don’t hold your breath” statement if I ever heard one — the ease of use and licensing schemes will need to be reworked at the very least if they want to be on par with their open source brethren.

So, what now if you have one or more of those yellow boxes in your data center?  Well, first of all, if you are a developer, get on the open source bandwagon. Seriously, Gartner’s 2015 Enterprise Search Magic Quadrant is a joke, requiring (as it does) payment for inclusion. In eight years with Qbox and before, I could count the number of times I have come across those companies competitively on one hand. Commercial enterprise search is deader than disco. Elasticsearch and Solr are the only value proposition now, and they flat out own developer mindshare.

The solution

It will come as no surprise that we are biased to Elasticsearch, and even more biased for using it hosted on Qbox.  Our solution provides the power of Elasticsearch without the DevOps headaches, managed and supported 24/7 without additional support contracts, and the per-node pricing is much more transparent.

Why not give us a try? Our Supergiant infrastructure is priced competitively with both AWS and Google Cloud Platform on-demand pricing and comes with the support of people who are all trained Elasticsearch experts.