Microsoft Fast: An Integration Roadmap without Google Maps

February 11, 2009

Fast Forward 09’s “big” announcement is history. I have had a couple of calls and a few emails about the bundling of Fast Search & Transfer’s Enterprise Search Platform with SharePoint. You can read Todd Bishop’s review of some of the history or deal and some azure chip consultant market projections here. His article has attracted some comments. I flicked through these and found two of interest.

The first is the article in All about Microsoft here. Mary-Jo Foley’s “Microsoft Updates Its Enterprise Search Roadmap” is well named. The “big” news is not a product that one can use right now. The “big” news is a roadmap. For me the most interesting part of her column was this comment:

Fast’s technology soups up the enterprise search capabilities that are part of SharePoint Server. Fast adds more sophisticated user-interface elements, like thumbnail and preview views; cluster support and more compute-intensive tasks like entity abstraction and the creation of relationships between concepts

In my experience, anyone who asserts that Fast ESP “soups up” enterprise search has not performed two hands on Fast ESP tasks. [1] Installing, tuning, and updating the system with Fast ESP hot fixes. And [2] building out an infrastructure to give Fast ESP sufficient room to breathe. Ms. Foley does a good job of tracking Microsoft, but I am not convinced that her inclusion of the “soups up” reference matches reality. Fast ESP is a collection of components. Some of those identified in the comment above come from third parties and will stretch the expertise of the average SharePoint wizard. The article does not point to several of the well known issues associated with Fast ESP, and those issues help explain how the company ended up in a bit of a financial jam which evolved into the police action on October 16, 2009.

The second is Search Engine Watch’s article “Microsoft Integrates Fast Search with Existing Enterprise Search Offerings” here. The write up is based on this comment from a Microsoft professional:

FAST Search for SharePoint will combine high-end search with the broad portal, collaboration, content management and business intelligence capabilities of SharePoint. And FAST Search for Internet Business will deliver search capabilities tuned to drive more revenue through Web sites.

I don’t know what this statement means. I find myself reluctant to believe that the Fast ESP system will “drive more revenue through Web sites.” Maybe this is a reference to the Fast Search publishing technology. Again I think the writer is feeding back marketing lingo without providing any detail.

Let me come at this announcement in a different way:

First, Fast Search was designed a year or two before the Google stomped into the picture. The Fast Search plumbing was Linux and the system did a very good job of indexing Web content quickly. Even after the sale of Fast Search’s Web index (, Fast Search’s indexing of news was more efficient and timely than Google’s news service. (Google has now bypassed Fast Search in news in my opinion.)


Coming to a SharePoint installation if I understand the news announcement at Fast Forward 09 on February 10, 2009. © Fast Search & Transfer 2007. From Enterprise Search Report, 3rd Edition. Used in that study with the permission of Fast Search & Transfer.

Hooking the Fast ESP into SharePoint with or without Dot Net is going to be a bit of an effort.

My take on this “big” announcement. The competitors who offer alternatives to SharePoint search will have many opportunities to make new sales. My hunch is that Google is greatly encouraged by this “big” announcement.

Stephen Arnold, February 11, 2009


Comments are closed.

  • Archives

  • Recent Posts

  • Meta