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Fast Search Targets Government Search With Key Convera Acquisition

Fast said it would pay $23 million for Convera's RetrievalWare unit, which does around 70% of its government business is with U.S. agencies.

Fast Search & Transfer moved to strengthen its government sector business Monday by acquiring key assets of Convera Corp.'s information retrieval operations. Fast said it would pay $23 million for Convera's RetrievalWare unit.

Peter Bauert, senior VP of corporate development at Fast, estimated that some 70% of Convera's government business is with U.S. agencies. "Fast will continue to support Convera's RetrievalWare customers, partners, and resellers worldwide," said Bauert.

Convera will concentrate on its vertical publishing search business and will utilize Fast's Ad Momentum advertising and monetization platform in that effort.

"We have the intention of migrating Convera customers to the Fast [platform]," Bauert said in an interview. "We'll support the Convera platform in the interim."

Bauert said the Convera platform has become something of a de facto enterprise search platform among government users in recent years. The Fast platform, however, has several valuable features unavailable to Convera users, including more robust scalability and the flexibility to link with a wide variety of databases. The Fast platform also offers high performance in terms of queries-per-second that will appeal to government users, Bauert said. "Fast has the full search repertoire," he said. "Convera didn't."

The government sector has been attracting search engine providers and the market has become increasingly competitive in recent months.

"Once you have a critical mass in government search, you can become the vendor to go to," said Bauert, noting Convera's strong position in U.S. government search. "Then it's easy to add new users." He added that Fast already has some U.S. government users in Department of Defense and Agriculture Department offices.

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