Microsoft Fast Strategy Shift

March 26, 2009

I have been puzzled by magazines with the word “Redmond” in the title. I get a couple of these publications in the mail, and I find the stories interesting. “Microsoft’s FAST Strategy Shift” by Stephen Swoyer here stopped me in my tracks. The story reported that the roadmap outlined at the Fast Forward 2009 conference a few weeks ago shifted. I had locked in my thinking on the Fast Forward 2009 announcements and was waiting for some concrete deliverables to arrive. Mr. Swoyer wrote:

"[Search Server Express] is offered for free to capture the attention of workers developing low-volume, limited-value projects. Microsoft will incorporate the FAST technology into the search products elsewhere in the Office family as of its next…release date," Andrews said. "For now, Microsoft sells a more independent product, FAST ESP for SharePoint, which it will transform into the FAST Search for SharePoint product when the latter becomes available. Greater scale and functional flexibility are key elements of the FAST product."

I interpreted this comment to mean that integration is in the undefined future. In my opinion, the roadmap is a broad guideline. The product integration is mostly a Web part and manual job. If this is the case, Microsoft will face considerable pressure from third party vendors who offer a “snap in solution”; that is, one that either requires zero new code or minimal tweaking of proven scripts.

I thought Redmond publications were pro Microsoft. If my assumption is correct, this story is softening some hard facts about the Microsoft purchase of Fast Search & Transfer for $1.2 billion about one year ago. Not only does Microsoft have its own SharePoint search solutions, a number of vendors offer very good search solutions that are essentially plug and play. More problematic is the Fast Search & Transfer technology. Perhaps it was once “best of breed”, but now the Fast ESP (enterprise search platform) has become more complex with the addition of new home grown functions, components obtained via licenses or open source, and the integration of sophisticated third party functions from other vendors. The police action remains an issue. On the LinkedIn enterprise search forum, I wrote about a flurry of job openings posted by Microsoft executives. These were blatant appeals for enterprise search professionals. I thought these blandishments were noteworthy. Where there is smoke there is fire in my neck of the Harrods’s Creek woods.

I will continue to monitor this SharePoint Fast integration project.

Stephen Arnold, March 26, 2009


2 Responses to “Microsoft Fast Strategy Shift”

  1. George Everitt on April 1st, 2009 2:46 pm

    I have been puzzled about Microsoft’s reluctance to commit full bore to a complete replacement of MOSS search with ESP.

    It would be a different story if MOSS search had any redeeming qualities, but it is stuck in the ’90s and built on a swamp. Microsoft/FAST are letting a great opportunity slip through their fingers.

  2. In Search of Microsoft Search « Unstructured Data Blog on April 15th, 2009 10:16 pm

    […] with Microsoft SharePoint and after some twists and turns that is still the strategy – see this Beyond Search blog entry for more […]

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