Friday, March 27, 2009

Where is the FAST Search Community?

I am truly excited about Microsoft's acquisition of FAST Search as well as the recent news about Microsoft's new Enterprise Search road map. Anyone who has deployed Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) as an Enterprise Search solution or internet facing solution probably can appreciate all of the considerations that go into planning and implementing as well as some of the limitations that force you to think outside the box.

Prior to becoming proficient in MOSS Search, and prior to doing numerous Search Proof of Concepts on behalf of Microsoft, I spent quite a bit of time locked inside of a small office in the North End of Boston, researching, building and testing MOSS Search on a Microsoft VM. My primary sources of information included TechNet webcasts, blogs, Codeplex, MSDN articles, and the Microsoft Partner Support contacts. I've come to really appreciate the abundance of free flowing ideas and information that exists on the Web related to MOSS. The community is fantastic.

As I embark on new and exciting adventures working with FAST ESP, I am certain that the MOSS community will continue to contribute high quality information and will eventually expand to cover more topics related to FAST ESP. As of now, I don't see the same level of knowledge sharing occurring with FAST as I have seen with MOSS. I only hope that in response to Microsoft's acquisition of FAST as well as their reasonable product licensing model, that FAST will become more widely adopted and that a FAST Search community will flourish on the Web.


Anonymous said...

Sir, You should check out Coveo Enterprise Search. Its far superior to FAST. Hast is such a whale and requires an army to setup and manage.

Nicholas Bisciotti said...

I have deployed Coveo Enterprise Search multiple times, I like it very much, and it definitely has its place in the market (btw, they need to bring back Coveo Desktop Search download!!..where did it go??).

Enterprise Search has multiple tiers (department/team, division, enterprise, adv enterprise). Other factors include varying requirements for functionality and volume and availability for different types/sized organizations.

Coveo fits well as an Enterprise Solution. It enhances SharePoint. It adds user features that SharePoint lacks. It has a user friendly administration screens, which works well when there is a limited support staff. It is also priced very reasonably. I agree, it takes much less effort to set up than FAST.

Having said this, when reviewing business requirements for more advanced Search solutions, you may quickly discover that you need a robust, extensible search "platform", not just a search application. I'm not saying that Coveo cannot be customized..it can. However, certain search projects have requirements that are advanced enough when it is actually more cost effective to develop on FAST. I'm talking about document processing, linguistics, tagging, big volume, high availability.

Stay tuned, as time goes on FAST product will adapt and will become more available/manageable/cost effective and will compete in the same markets that Coveo is currently serving.

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