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GSA case study

At a Glance

What they wanted to do:

•  Boost employee efficiency and effectiveness

•   Surface relevant information across multiple repositories

•  Save time and resources

•  Share expertise and information with greater ease

What they did:

•  Rolled out the Google Search Appliance as part of a complete enterprise portal revamp

•  Began organising and culling through content stores to ensure that employees can readily access the most necessary information

What they accomplished:

•   Enabled employees to quickly find relevant information

•  Built solid foundation for universal enterprise search

•   Gained a clearer understanding of content assets across widely dispersed business

•   Established flexible and robust search, capable of crawling upwards of 10 million documents


About the Google Search Appliance

The Google Search Appliance (GSA) is an integrated hardware and software search solution that extends Google’s award-winning search technology to websites of all kinds, including corporate sites and intranets. Organizations can use GSA to make data on servers, content management systems, databases and business applications instantly and securely available from a single familiar search box. More than 25,000 companies worldwide use Google Enterprise search solutions.




 “With the GSA, employees can now get to everything they need, from the form for booking a corporate car to vital research about our invaluable water resources.”

Kirsty Sinnott, Business manager’s representative, the Water Corporation


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Western Australia’s vast water services corporation builds foundation for universal enterprise search with the Google Search Appliance 



The Water Corporation is the principal supplier of water, wastewater, and drainage services in Western Australia to hundreds of thousands of homes, businesses, and farms, as well as providing bulk water to farms for irrigation. The Corporation serves nearly 2 million Western Australians spread over 2.5 million square kilometres. With regional offices in Perth, Bunbury, Albany, Karratha, Geraldton, Northam, and Kalgoorlie, the Water Corporation is a highly dispersed organisation.



Managing the water supply across such a vast geographical area is a formidable task, especially in the face of climate change, and the need to work closely with all tiers of government, industry, and communities. Building and updating the water and wastewater infrastructure, in particular, is a capital-intensive endeavor. The Corporation continuously seeks more efficient and innovative ways of working to deliver cost effective services to their customers.

One means of accomplishing these goals was to help employees find information more readily, from the latest water quality and usage research, to day-to-day operational documents such as forms to check out vehicles from the corporate carpool.

Traditionally, information has been stored in two primary repositories: an existing intranet—Waternet—and a Hummingbird document management system (DMS), although the DMS the facility was not user-friendly and required advanced technical skill. It was even more difficult to find information on the Waternet, which had expanded and become unwieldy, as is the case with many corporate intranets. Assorted information was also stored on local hard drives and file shares, which were not available across business units or locations. Document volumes, just including the intranet and DMS, had grown to 5-10 million.

“Information was quite difficult to find, unless you knew the path to take in advance,” says Kirsty Sinnott, business manager’s representative for the Water Corporation. “To support our workforce to become more efficient and effective, the ability to surface relevant information in an easily consumed format emerged as a requirement we needed to address sooner rather than later.”



“The main reason we chose the GSA is that straight out of the box, we could literally plug it in and it would begin to crawl our repositories.”

Kirsty Sinnott, business manager’s representative, the Water Corporation






To make information more “findable,” Sinnott began working with an in-house team and an outsourced IT consulting firm, spearheading an initiative to build a new enterprise portal to replace Waternet and other content stores. The business chose Microsoft SharePoint for content management, and then began considering multiple options for search, including Microsoft SharePoint’s built-in search tool, Microsoft FAST, SAP NetWeaver, and the Google Search Appliance (GSA).

Sinnott combed through research from Gartner’s Magic Quadrant, a research methodology that provides a graphical competitive positioning of technology providers in fast-growing markets like search. She quickly saw that the SAP and FAST solutions would require substantial configuration—something the team had neither the time, nor skill and inclination to undertake.

The GSA rose to the surface as the best alternative due to its “plug and search” simplicity. Its Connector for SharePoint would enable searching and serving content stored in what will soon be the enterprise’s standard solution for content management. Deploying the Google Search Appliance was straightforward, according to Sinnott.

“The main reason we chose the GSA is that straight out of the box, we could literally plug it in and it would begin to crawl SharePoint and our other repositories,” she says.

To streamline the rollout, the Water Corporation worked with BluePoint, a leading Google Enterprise partner in the region. The BluePoint team have delivered the largest and most complex Google Search solutions in Australia, and provides quick installation, integration, and training, as well as support.

The Corporation also conducted a pilot program with a select business reference group, which provided feedback to include how many versions of a document they wanted to be able to view, and so on. Sinnott and her team also conducted road shows, a corporate-wide internal communications campaign and Google promotional items to employees to boost enthusiasm for the new search solution.


Since implementing the GSA, search relevance and ease has far surpassed the previous set-up. Employees are now tapping into search capabilities more frequently, with far better results.

The GSA proved extremely effective at surfacing information, including some that was previously difficult to find, and other information that needed to be shared yet was being closely held by a small group of individuals within pockets of the organisation. This led to the realisation that the contents of the incumbent DMS needed assessment and clean up.

Currently, the new enterprise portal is a work in progress that is continually evolving and improving. The use of the GSA is advancing as well, as the Corporation better organises its content and takes advantage of more features of the GSA. There is more to do, but the Corporation now has a solid foundation for search that is flexible and robust, and capable of crawling upwards of 10 million documents across any repository.

Already, employees are giving nods of approval. As use of the GSA increases, Sinnott expects it to help them in making faster, smarter decisions, and to become better at sharing expertise and information.

“We hear ‘Thank you, I’m finding what I’m looking for’ quite a lot,’” Sinnott says. “With the GSA, employees can now get to everything they need, from the form for booking a corporate car to vital research about our invaluable water resources.”