10 Questions to ask your vendor about a Google Search Appliance replacement

With the Google Search Appliance (GSA) slowly being replaced in organizations due to the sun-setting of the product announced in early 2016, IT leaders within organizations are tasked with finding an alternate or better product to fit the void left by the Google product. Having replaced over 100+ Google Search Appliance solutions in organizations, we have a list of questions we are constantly asked about our solution to replace the Google Search Appliance and why it is superior or best fit for their replacement and future requirements.

Is it a flexible product?

The definition of what a product is seems to vary with the systems integrator or solution provider. Purchasing a product rather than a “stack” or custom solution with multiple components or modules often lowers the cost and helps with deployment and support in the long term. Not to mention accountability of a single vendor for the search product rather than multiple players involved thereby involving delays for future issues and product development.

Is it a single download deployment with no dependencies like the GSA?

Does the product deploy with a single download or do you need a multiple setups and dependencies increasing the number of moving parts and issues caused. GSA was a great product to deploy and so should your replacement whether it is on-premise or on the cloud.

What is the time required to do a proof of concept (POC)?

Doing a POC with customer data on-premise or on the cloud in a 15/30 day period provides the confidence of trying out the product out in your own organization before making a decision. POCs also show the ability of the vendor to support the product and give a glimpse of future support.

Can they show a demo with your organization’s data, rather than pre-configured demo with sales speak?

Trying out your GSA replacement in your own environment shows the ability to connect with different data sources and search immediately. The GSA provided this ability and so should your replacement without the need for extensive customization or professional services.

Can we compare side by side for end user feedback with the existing GSA setup?

Most often trying out the replacement product side-by-side with the existing GSA can show the ease of use of the new product as well as get you valuable end user feedback for the solution. This also provides the opportunity for your end users to add their voice to the replacement decision.

How often do they update the product?

Products have release cycles in their road-map and knowing what the vendor has consistently provided in the past (8-10 years or more) and knowing the frequency of updates is critical.

How long has the company been developing the product?

Having spent the last 15+ years in search and analytics, lots of companies have come and gone leaving the customers who have spent time and dollars in the lurch when they got acquired, merged or shutdown. Longevity does not provide future guarantees but offers an insight in terms of the endurance of the product to stay and sustain the competition.

Do they provide a managed migration service from GSA to the replacement product?

Does the product vendor or their partner provide any assistance with the migration of the GSA to their platform. This is critical as it shows they understand the existing GSA product and can manage migration requirements. Going with the managed migration service with the product vendor can often save time and reduce frustration dealing with the existing technologies and learning new technologies.

What is the level of professional services required versus out-of-the-box features provided?

Knowing what is provided out-of-the-box versus what requires professional services and the ratio between them is an absolute answer that you need to make the GSA replacement successful. Generally even with the GSA, some organizations have used 3rd parties for connectors and security implementations, but knowing the services required is an absolute must before making the product decision. The POC can help with determining the nature of services required and at what cost.

And lastly what is the support model offered? At what cost?

Most products offer some level of support with the product license. However reading the fine print on what is the response time SLA and also hours of support offered is critical to ensure the organization is supported at all times by the vendor. Vendors also offer varying levels of support (24×7 versus business hours only) based on cost and purchasing the right level of support for your use case is important.

Most IT leaders are looking for a product to replace an existing product but with the added flexibility to do more than what is currently is place with the GSA. In addition to what is being used today with the GSA, CIOs are exploring methods to embed machine learning and cognitive methods to not just find information but find meaning within the data. Having replaced more than a 100+ Google Search Appliances at this time with answering all our customer questions, we find it is increasing critical to implement a product that enables your organization to do more than just a replacement of the existing search.

Contact us to see how we can assist you with the replacement of your Google Search Appliance.