I'm not sure how long this has been out, since I found it by an absolute fluke while getting the latest version of Douglas Karr's Technorati Rank WordPress Plugin. While downloading I happened to notice an AdSense showing the blue 1U server to the right and said "WTF is that?" Feeling adventurous, I took the plunge and started reading up on what this little thing can do… and it's gonna be a winner.
I'm very suspicious of Google's technologies because they're too good to be true. Almost a decade ago I learned that when things often seem this way, they usually are. Everything has a price, but Google just hasn't started extracting their price.
In the last year alone I have been asked to integrate more and more Google stuff into various corporate CRMs, websites, smart-apps, and portable applications. I'm still trying to get the blood off my hands from a project I had completed a few months back to integrate Google Calendar into a company's BlackBerry system. I don't know if it's just me, but I find this absolute trust in Google to be scary. Thousands of companies are uploading so much data to this organization, and I'm wondering when the shoe is going to drop. Trade secrets, customer lists, sales leads, corporate stragegems, financials … everything is being put on these servers where the data is out of the owners' hands. When the day comes that Google says "Oh, we're charging you for all this now", companies will be hard-pressed to rip out all the Google-specific code written into virtually every aspect of their business.
And people say that Microsoft is evil ….
However, my rant finished, Google Mini is going to be a huge success for these guys. This little box will index the contents of a corporate network and provide a single place for users to look. What's more, it has support for LDAP so that when someone goes to search for documents they will only see the results that they have permission to access. At most of the places I've done work for in the last two years, this service would be a God-send. Quite often there are very similar documents in completely different network shares, and people spend more time trying to collect information than use it. Most everyone is already very accustomed to the Google GUI, and productivity could potentially skyrocket with something like this.
Naturally, since the 1U server would be provided to you already loaded with software and awaiting integration into a corporate network, this wouldn't be free. The price structure looks to be right in line with what most corporations would be willing to pay, with the starter package going for $1,995 USD for searches on up to 50,000 documents.
I am curious to know what information is sent back to Google, though. I'm sure that this box requires some sort of internet connection to keep itself up to date and would likely complain if it was not granted access to an outside port. While I doubt Google would use this for covert corporate espionage, the possibility exists. This little server could be more dangerous to a company than anything people have wrongfully blamed Microsoft for.
Of course, all that said, I've already recommended this to a few clients as well as my current employer in an effort to help them help themselves. This is already a winner.