01 August 2014

Comparison of Google Search Appliance 7.2 and 7.0 Admin Consoles

The latest major version of Google Search Appliance software, GSA 7.2, was released on 12 February 2014, and introduced a ton of new features. One of those features was a significantly redesigned admin console, with restructured navigation menus. Prior to 7.2, the admin console hadn't changed in many years, so when I started working with 7.2 I had a bit of trouble remembering where to find specific menu items in the new admin console. I've heard GSA customers and students having the same problems finding things. In fact, one person I talked to actually backed out of a system upgrade because he couldn't find items in the new console! (The ability to back out of a system upgrade is itself a new 7.2 feature, by the way.)

So that's the motivation behind this blog post. Within the 7.2 release notes, there's actually a specific list that maps old menu item locations to new ones, but I thought that a little visual representation might help. This post will help you navigate from GSA 7.0 to GSA 7.2.

13 May 2014

Google Search Appliance 6.14 deprecation, and how to upgrade your GSA

Yesterday, Google informed its customers that Google Search Appliance 6.14 has been deprecated. The earliest supported GSA software version is now GSA 7.0. If you're using the Google Search Appliance, and haven't upgraded to at least 7.0 or higher, you should do this as soon as possible!

10 April 2014

My heart bleeds for you (security-wise, anyway)

What is Heartbleed, and why should I care?

If you've paid any attention to tech news over the last few days, you may have heard of a serious vulnerability called Heartbleed. In a nutshell, this is a vulnerability found in OpenSSL. What's OpenSSL? It's the program used by many web servers to provide HTTPS access via Transport Layer Security (TLS, which we used to call SSL). In other words, when you open a browser and buy something on Amazon, or log into Google Apps, you're connecting to a web server that uses TLS.

12 March 2014

Managing Chrome: Adding Existing Apps to the Chrome Web Store Domain Collection

Recently, my coworker and good friend Steve Drucker put together a blog post about Chrome Web Store apps useful for developers. I liked it, mostly because I've been using a couple of those plugins a lot myself lately - especially Postman, which is a great little tool for building and sending HTTP requests. It's great for REST testing!

13 February 2014

New GSA Specifications and Usage Limits document, and GSA maximum file sizes

Google Search Appliance documentation has, historically, been pretty good at explaining how the GSA works, but not so good about documenting the allowed ranges for a lot of configuration options. Typically, the way you'd find them out was by exceeding one of them, and seeing that things didn't work as expected. You'd then open a Google support ticket, and the support engineer would tell you, "You can't have more than X of those." This has been mildly frustrating, especially for me as a GSA instructor. When a student asked what the maximum value for a given field is, I'd have to either rely on my own experience or say I didn't know.

12 February 2014

Google Search Appliance 7.2 New Features

Google announced the release of Google Search Appliance 7.2 today! Lots of point releases tend to be mostly bug fixes, but this is a major release - with a number of powerful new features! I've already had GSA customers ask me whether they should upgrade, so I thought it would be useful to describe some of the new features in detail.

22 January 2014

What day is it? Why document dates are so important to the Google Search Appliance.

I spend a lot of time working with Google Search Appliance administrators who have set up their own GSA without our help. One very common problem that I encounter when reviewing their implementations is that the GSA can't identify when their documents were published. As a result, they may have several serious problems. The most serious problem is crawl frequency. The GSA uses document dates to schedule recrawls, with a goal of crawling each document approximately twice as frequently as it changes. Without dates, the GSA can't build this optimal recrawl schedule. Their GSAs may crawl their content too frequently, causing the content servers to become unresponsive to other users' requests. Or, their GSAs may not crawl their content enough, resulting in an out-of-date and stale index. If you find yourself using Freshness Tuning or Host Load Settings to reduce or increase your crawl rate, or always force recrawl, you may have the same problem.