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Microsoft Bolsters SharePoint's Enterprise Search

Microsoft rolled out two new enterprise search products on Tuesday at its FASTforward'09 event in Las Vegas. The company unveiled FAST Search for SharePoint and FAST Search for Internet Business.

Both products use search technologies from FAST Search & Transfer, an Oslo, Norway-based company that Microsoft acquired in April for an estimated $1.2 billion. FAST apparently had good search technologists but lousy accountants. Norwegian authorities raided FAST's Oslo office in October over accounting irregularities.

FAST Search for SharePoint is a server product that bolsters search capabilities in Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server, a solution that enables collaboration and document management. FAST Search for SharePoint will be available "with the release of the next version of Microsoft Office," according to Microsoft's announcement.

Microsoft has not yet publicly disclosed when "Office 14" -- the next version of Microsoft Office -- will appear. An Ars Technica article guessed that it will be released in late 2009 or early 2010.

Microsoft's FAST purchase was described early-on by Forrester Research analysts as boosting SharePoint's "too lightweight" enterprise search functionality. The technology adds some additional search extraction capability, according to Arun Krishnamoorthy, Microsoft senior software development lead.

"When you connect SharePoint Search to FAST, you immediately gain access to high-end navigation features such as the ability to extract documents containing specific entities -- for example, a particular company, city or country -- and the extended refinement counts over the entire index," Krishnamoorthy said in a prepared statement.

The second product, FAST Search for Internet Business, is an extension of Microsoft's existing FAST ESP (Enterprise Search Platform) technology specifically designed to optimize Web site searches. The product is designed to grind through unstructured data to retrieve data lodged in a company's file servers.

FAST Search for Internet Business is expected to be available as a beta release in the second half of 2009.

For those who can't wait for FAST Search for SharePoint to arrive, Microsoft offers an ESP for SharePoint product. Microsoft describes ESP for SharePoint as an option "available for SharePoint Enterprise Client Access License customers," according to its announcement. This product has "a defined licensing path to FAST Search for SharePoint when it becomes available," the announcement added.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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