Microsoft Details (FAST) Search Strategy - InformationWeek

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2/16/2009
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Sandy Kemsley
Sandy Kemsley
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Microsoft Details (FAST) Search Strategy

At Microsoft's FASTForward event in Las Vegas last week, Kirk Koenigsbauer outlined Microsoft's enterprise search vision and roadmap. These days, no one is making $1.2 billion technology acquisitions, but at last year's conference, the FAST acquisition was in progress; now Microsoft has had a year to work out where they're going with it.

At Microsoft's FASTForward event in Las Vegas last week, Kirk Koenigsbauer outlined Microsoft's enterprise search vision and roadmap. These days, no one is making a lot of $1.2B technology acquisitions, but at last year's conference, the FAST acquisition was in progress; now they've had a year to work out where they're going with it.

Microsoft is keeping a significant engineering team focused on enterprise search, as well as a global sales and support organization. They've doubled the number of partners, and there's been 100,000 downloads of Search Server Express, the free, low-end enterprise search product. Koenigsbauer's point was that they're committed to the enterprise search market, and he stated that search is central to Microsoft's overall strategy of "creating experiences that combine the magic of software with the power of internet services across a world of devices."From an enterprise standpoint, search can be layered over existing systems, such as CRM and content management; instead of having to know which system to go to for information on a customer, enterprise search allows searching across these heterogeneous systems to aggregate the information on a single screen. Adding a social aspect, knowing who is creating content related to your search can help to create the connections between people within your enterprise. And to make all this actionable, we saw a demo of a search environment where search results and related people could be dragged into an interactive wiki workspace to create a concept or project wiki on the fly.

There are two core scenarios for Microsoft in enterprise search: internet business and business productivity (or, roughly, outside the firewall and inside the firewall), as evidenced by Microsoft's product announcements.

Microsoft announced the FAST Search for SharePoint product, which is FAST ESP tuned for and integrated with SharePoint (not a stunning surprise). They'll still deliver FAST ESP as a standalone product, but packaging it with SharePoint can make it simpler and cheaper (from a licensing standpoint) for the huge number of enterprises using SharePoint. No dates for shipping, but it will be part of Wave 14 of the Office/SharePoint release. In the interim, they'll sell you ESP for SharePoint, which provides a bridge to SharePoint.

Microsoft also announced FAST Search for Internet Business, also shipping in the Wave 14 timeframe, which provides content integration and interaction management capabilities that are tuned for driving online revenue. Packaging will be simpler and licensing costs will be lower than the current FAST ESP.At Microsoft's FASTForward event in Las Vegas last week, Kirk Koenigsbauer outlined Microsoft's enterprise search vision and roadmap. These days, no one is making $1.2 billion technology acquisitions, but at last year's conference, the FAST acquisition was in progress; now Microsoft has had a year to work out where they're going with it.

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