Autonomy: Quicker than Microsoft Fast Search Yet Again

September 19, 2008

Autonomy continues to out think Microsoft Fast Search. The nimbleness of Autonomy cannot be overlooked by the Redmond giant. Microsoft has revenues of $65 billion or so. Autonomy weighs in with $400 million or $500 million in revenues. Microsoft spent $1.2 billion for an enterprise search vendor which stunned the content processing world with a Web part to integrate SharePoint (a hugely complex content management system) with Fast ESP (an equally complex content processing system). Now Autonomy rolls out its “its information processing technology [that] extends Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) to meet customer requirements for scalability, connectivity and conceptual search.” You can read the details of this new Autonomy product here.

Now if I were involved with Microsoft Fast Search, I would be tempted to say, “Those Autonomy folks have hit on a very good idea.” I might even be tempted to suggest that we buy Autonomy just to get the company’s marketing team. When you have billions in the bank and are fighting to out Google Google, why not buy Autonomy? It makes more sense than trying to weld together Powerset and technology in my opinion.

I don’t know who is running the Microsoft enterprise search operation. There’s been too many executive changes and too few substantive announcements to hold this addled goose’s short attention span. What’s clear is that Autonomy is able to pinpoint cracks in the Microsoft Fast Search armor and exploit them. Anyone who has any hands on experience with SharePoint knows that it’s easy to get a finger crushed in SharePoint’s moving parts. So Autonomy asserts:

Autonomy further extends global MOSS scalability through its distributed, brokered architecture and “geo-efficient” design which allows data to be automatically replicated in the most sensible location based on bandwidth, lag time, availability and demand. This enables high performance and gives users aggregated access to all enterprise information in a unified view in globally dispersed environments while reducing bandwidth overhead. Because IDOL creates a stub, or shortcut, to the data and supports tiered storage rather than requiring that data be stored in SQL Server, organizations using IDOL with SharePoint can further benefit from dramatically reduced SQL Server licenses and associated scalability limitations.

Microsoft may want to pay close attention to how Autonomy deftly points out the finger mashing gears and levers in SharePoint. Next Microsoft may want to put safety covers on the more dangerous bits. If SharePoint and Fast Search continue to dog paddle along, Autonomy and maybe other vendors will find the 100 million SharePoint users easy pickings.

A happy quack to Autonomy for this deft marketing move. A goose gift for the Redmond behemoth who seems unable to organize its parade and get it marching toward the objective of delivering a solution to the scaling problems in SharePoint. Agree? Disagree? Help keep me informed via the Comments function on this Web log.

Stephen Arnold, September 19, 2008


4 Responses to “Autonomy: Quicker than Microsoft Fast Search Yet Again”

  1. George Everitt on September 19th, 2008 2:12 pm

    Clearly Autonomy has audacious marketing. IDOL is not without moving parts itself. Purple prose notwithstanding, it is hardly simple to implement any Autonomy solution. Those with long hair and neckties are best to avoid the IDOL shredder at all cost. And their licensing model is atrocious. Loose talk about “SQL Server” licensing is a complete red herring coming from AU.

    Being hip deep in a MOSS search solution at the moment (e.g, writing a protocol handler) and dealing with 1993 vintage COM code, I will not defend the broken Search that is in MOSS.

    The Autonomy marketing genius does have a point about the SQL Server technical bottleneck. Like Autonomy, FAST has no such bottleneck. What Microsoft needs to do is integrate ESP into MOSS tout de suite, and rid themselves of the crime against computing that is the current MOSS search while getting a decent foothold in the enterprise search market. I don’t see much happening on that front, but for some reason they don’t CC me on their internal product planning e-mails any more.

  2. Stephen E. Arnold on September 19th, 2008 10:28 pm

    George Everitt

    Thanks for your comments. I take Autonomy comments at face value. Perhaps you are reading more deeply and intelligently between the lines of their announcements than I am able to do. Thank you for your view point.

    Stephen Arnold, September 19, 2008

  3. Oswaldo Middleton on September 22nd, 2008 3:57 am

    You’re not constantly taking on Autonomy. IDOL provides Autonomy to make revenues.

  4. Stephen E. Arnold on September 22nd, 2008 6:17 pm

    Oswaldo Middleton,

    I don’t take on anyone. As an addled goose, I am trying to capture my thoughts per the “About” section’s editorial policy. I don’t like any search system. It’s pointless, therefore, for me to generate complaints. I try to describe functions and activities that in my opinion warrant capturing in this Web log. No vendor is perfect; none is terrible. I don’t prefer one over another. The systems I like have fallen by the wayside; for example, STAIRS III, InQuire, and Speed of Mind. Now I just capture my opinions with a mixture of gentle tweaks and some goose humor.

    Stephen Arnold, September 22, 2008

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