Microsoft appears to be making good use of the search technology it gained when it bought Norway's Fast Search and Transfer last year.
As ZDNet's Mary-Jo Foley reports, Microsoft just announced it will integrate the technology into SharePoint 10. (There is not yet a projected ship date for SharePoint 10, but those testing it believe it will be late this year or early 2010.) Some SharePoint users were already touting its search capabilities, and the addition of more sophisticated Fast features such as cluster support and thumbnail and preview views will likely win even more fans. Foley notes this interest, adding that Microsoft already has more than 7,000 customers using the search server piece of SharePoint. The company says its free, entry-level Search Server Express product has been downloaded more than 100,000 times.
To avoid losing customers to competitors in the fast-growing search space, Microsoft is creating a "licensing path" for existing SharePoint users, allowing them to license the Fast capabilities now and move them over to SharePoint 14 when it ships. Existing users also will be able to transfer their current client-access licenses to the Fast Search servers (though they will still need to buy server licenses).
There is a "gotcha," however, as InformationWeek's Andrew Conry-Murray notes. Unfortunately, he writes, "any content indexed using ESP for SharePoint will have to re-index content to make it searchable using FAST Search for SharePoint." This is no insignificant issue, as IT pros recently surveyed by InformationWeek identified indexing content and maintaining indexes as their top technological challenge associated with enterprise search.
For more on SharePoint, IT Business Edge's Knowledge Network has documents on installing Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 and a cheat sheet designed to help companies maximize the benefits they obtain from SharePoint Services.