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Does anyone have experience with the Google Search Appliance? I'm interested in hearing about others experience with the product. We are currently evaluating search options including Google Search Appliance, doing our own thing with Lucene, etc. In some cases we need to search over non-public pages so we can't use the regular Google search APIs.

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I know of one environment where Lucene was chosen over Google Search Appliance. Deciding factor was flexibility of available code. The environment had serious resident developer expertise.
Don't know if you're still interested Daniel, since you posted this last year! :)

We use a Google Mini for our intranet. It's much better than most open source search engines, though I haven't done any work with Lucene. One complaint is that for some architectural reason, it's very slow to react to configuration changes. For example, starting it from being powered down or rebooted takes almost 15 minutes. It's taken over 45 minutes to reduce its crawling rate when we've asked it to slow down.

The search quality isn't as good as the public Google, but I could attribute that to less hyperlinks to generate PageRank with, or a fear of reverse engineering. Finally, you can get stats, but it makes you snapshot them and load them later. I'm not sure why it works like that - I'd rather be able to just click on a date range and see the relevant stats.

Beyond those things, it's very powerful and worth the investment. If you are an XSLT wizard or have access to one, you can coax the Mini to serve the results using any template you want, and you can have different templates for different parts of the search index. There's knobs to tweak the rankings a little bit, and a lot of other nice functionality. The Search Appliance should give you even more ability to customize.

Good luck.
Ken: Thank you for your response. That is the same reason we are considering Lucene. Its nice to have the source and a rich API.

Jesse: I am still interested. Thank you for your detailed description. I was wondering how well it worked given the lack of heavy linking on private networks and intranets.

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