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Moving from the Google Search Appliance (GSA) to SharePoint

A seamless migration for a global company's enterprise search application

BACKGROUND

A high performance enterprise search application helps an organization gain better insights in order to enhance collaboration, processes, and the bottom line. As the amount of data and number of data sources grow, an enterprise search application’s success will largely depend on the search engine’s scalability, efficient content processing, and the ability to tune the engine based on user behavior analytics.

Our customer’s enterprise search application had been supported by the Google Search Appliance (GSA), which is a reliable and mature search engine that offers enterprise-grade functionality and security. But as SharePoint grew to be the organization’s central information and collaboration portal, they were looking to seamlessly migrate from the Google Search Appliance to SharePoint 2013.

CHALLENGE

SharePoint 2013 provides a rich set of advanced search features and flexible deployment options. For our customer requirements, the new SharePoint search application needed to be capable of: 

  • Supporting search across various content sources.
  • Preserving the functionalities provided by the Google Search Appliance.
  • Providing different levels of content access to different user groups in SharePoint. 

Migrating from one search engine to another requires extensive knowledge of each engine’s capabilities as well as a thorough understanding of the IT environment in which it runs. Our goal was to make sure we evaluated all possible cases where the GSA and SharePoint search configurations may be different and proposed a migration approach for delivering a seamless, enhanced search experience. We accomplished this through a proven search application assessment methodology.

SOLUTION

Content sources

The content sources indexed by their Google Search Appliance as well as additional content sources, such as collaboration and business productivity applications, were crawled by both SharePoint and Aspire (Search Technologies’ proprietary content processing framework designed for structured and unstructured data) to bring the optimal performance for more complex content sources.  

  • Content sources that are best supported by SharePoint were crawled using on-board tools. 
  • For other content sources, especially those needing superior functionalities, Aspire was used for crawling. 

Crawled documents would then be processed by both SharePoint 2013 and Aspire to ensure content from all sources is normalized, enriched, and ready for indexing and search in SharePoint. 

A high-level architecture of the SharePoint search application is as followed:

gsa to sharepoint search migration

 

Search Features

With the migration, the following search features were configured in SharePoint to give a seamless, assistive search experience: 

  • Filters
  • Synonyms
  • Best bets
  • Group expansion

 

Security

The new search application also enabled document-level security, allowing different user groups to have access to the appropriate content. Single-Sign-On (SSO) was also implemented for centralized access and search within SharePoint.

 

User Interface

SharePoint 2013 offers a range of user interfaces out-of-the-box, which can also be customized for each organization based on the requirements. The customer’s SharePoint search interface was built on a standard Microsoft Enterprise Search template, with custom modifications and refiners for graphical and branding objectives.

RESULTS

The customer successfully migrated from the Google Search Appliance to SharePoint 2013, which brought comparable search features and an intuitive user interface for a seamless search experience.

The implementation of document-level security gave content permission to the designated groups of users while SSO allowed for a convenient, centralized access.

If you have additional questions or would like more details about this migration project, please contact us.

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