Google Courts Business Intelligence Players

Business Objects and IBI hop on Google’s OneBox Enterprise Bandwagon

Google Inc.’s OneBox Enterprise ecosystem picked up two more BI heavyweights last week, as both Business Objects SA and Information Builders Inc. (IBI) announced OneBox-ready modules.

Business Objects also announced support for Google’s Search Appliance, which IBI and a host of other business intelligence (BI) players currently support. OneBox Enterprise, which Google announced last month, provides category- and function-specific enterprise search capabilities. A bevy of BI players—including Cognos Inc., Oracle Corp., Salesforce.com, and SAS Institute Inc.—announced first-day support for OneBox Enterprise at last month’s launch event.

OneBox Enterprise isn’t a discrete offering, per se, so much as a complement to Google’s hardware Search Appliance. Software vendors can write to OneBox Enterprise APIs to incorporate Google search capabilities into their enterprise applications. The upshot, says Matthew Galzbach, product manager for Google Enterprise, is that anyone—from Jane D. Open Source Developer to the most stalwart of closed-source ISVs—can use its OneBox APIs to build Search Appliance providers for their projects.

“Your search experience is only as good as the information that you’re actually searching over, so if a user comes and does a search, but they don’t find what they’ve been looking for, it might be because the information [hasn’t been made] available to the search system,” Galzbach explains. “The announcement we made with OneBox is [part of an effort] … to call out to business applications and get information from them.”

Thanks to Business Object’s support for Google OneBox Enterprise—which (like other ISVs) it’s delivering via OneBox-ready software modules—joint customers can use the Google Search Appliance to search Business Objects content and return a list of Crystal (or WebIntelligence) reports, along with Business Objects dashboards, scorecards, and other BI information. Officials say the OneBox-ready software will be available sometime this quarter.

IBI, for its part, is no stranger to Google-dom. It notched a deal last September to support Google’s Search Appliance, and—when interviewed earlier this month about enterprise search—company officials assured TDWI that OneBox Enterprise support was a foregone conclusion, too. “We were kind of still busy with a whole bunch of things we were announcing for Summit [IBI’s annual user confab], so we weren’t as quick as we should have been with that [support for OneBox],” said Michael Corcoran, vice-president of product strategy with IBI.

Unlike Business Objects—and like competitor Cognos—IBI markets an enterprise search offering of its own, WebFOCUS Intelligent Search.

Some BI players—and Google itself—have touted enterprise search as a means to transform the end user application experience. For example, says Google’s Galzbach, the Google Search Appliance doesn’t simply crawl through and index static application content; instead, it provides the mechanism by which organizations can programmatically expose results to users, based in some cases on real-time information.

“There’s this whole other dimension of business data that isn’t something that you would go crawl and index, but it’s something you would call out in real time to answer questions that an employee might have, things like, ‘What’s the status of a purchase order?’ or ‘Show me all the leads in our CRM system for this account,’” Galzbach says. “Those are all bits of information that exist in the enterprise applications that power the business, but—until we released this OneBox capability—were oftentimes difficult to find, difficult to access for the employees who need that information.”

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.