Its always risky putting forward a view before you’ve been briefed, but in this case I wanted to at least put a placeholder down, because it seems to me that the equities analysts are calling this one incorrectly. I have read two research notes now that indicate Microsoft is acquiring FAST as a primarily consumer play, to defend Microsoft against Google.
FAST falls squarely into the enterprise space. Certainly that’s where its heritage and sales have been. The OEM angle is also particularly interesting given Microsoft is now competing with, for example, embedded Lucene (a powerful open source text search engine). Meanwhile Google Enterprise is pushing forward and winning enterprise sales with its search appliance.
It seems to me then that Microsoft is acquiring FAST as part of a strategy to more effectively span unstructured and structured content. You might call it enterprise social analytics.
“We leave a trail of breadcrumbs with every enterprise search query, request for information from a colleague, email, or other declaration. Who are we talking to, about what? Who are the smartest people in the company, and who are the most helpful? where are groups that agree with the strategy, and are acting accordingly by sharing relevant content?”
I have talked about Putting The Ad-Hoc into ERP.
My take is that indexing is more important than search itself. The metadata is far more valuable than the data when it comes to findability. Search helps us understand the relationships between people, which is where business gets done. That’s why Microsoft wanted to push ahead aggressively here.
As a related aside, given Autonomy is said to have recently signed a $70m deal with Citigroup, it could be that even at a premium this will turn into a good piece of business for Microsoft. $70m for document discovery? Blimey- Citibank should have established a compliance oriented architecture earlier- it might have saved a few million dollars with better preparation. Risk management, see.
Technically the Hummer here is in memory processing. We can do things we just couldn’t before – with mass instrumentation of every digital asset, and its relationship to teams and other assets with viable performance.
But enough conjecture- I will let you know more once I have had a briefing this week.