Microsoft's enterprise search road map leads to SharePoint

Microsoft laid out an extended road map for its enterprise search strategy this week.

Microsoft will release a new server that integrates the enterprise search technology it gained by acquiring Fast Search & Transfer with its SharePoint collaboration and content-management platform, the company said Tuesday.

A Web Parts-based integration between SharePoint and the Fast ESP search platform was available shortly after Microsoft bought Fast for US$1.2 billion last year, but the new server, Fast Search for SharePoint, will go much further, having been "designed to work really well across the various workloads of SharePoint," said Jared Spataro, director of enterprise search.

Fast Search for SharePoint will be available when Office 14 ships. Microsoft has not named a firm date for that launch.

Microsoft is also planning to release Fast Search for Internet Business in beta form during the second half of this year. The offering is aimed at customers who want to build search-driven e-commerce Web sites.

Spataro declined to provide exact pricing details, but Microsoft's licensing structure for the new offerings appears to offer significant cost cuts for existing SharePoint Enterprise users.

Customers who buy Fast Search for SharePoint will only pay per server; client access is included in their SharePoint Enterprise client access license.

The same model will be used for another new Microsoft product called ESP for SharePoint, aimed at SharePoint Enterprise customers who want to use some ESP technology but don't wish to wait until Office 14's release.

Meanwhile, Fast Search for Internet Business will be licensed based on factors like queries per second and data volume, Microsoft said.

Microsoft also has two other enterprise search products, Search Server 2008 and the free Search Server 2008 Express. The company bought Fast Search & Transfer in order to gain high-end search technology that could compete with the likes of Autonomy, which recently stepped into SharePoint's territory by announcing plans to buy content-management vendor Interwoven for US$775 million.

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