By Miles Kehoe
Microsoft's acquisition of FAST has certainly got the attention of many other search technology companies. Based on promotions, ad campaigns, and new product announcements, it seems that most of the major FAST competitors are making the case for their support of SharePoint. That seems to indicate that either 1) they didn't think they could compete against Search Server, but can provide better search than FAST; or 2) the impending integration of FAST ESP with SharePoint has other companies worried about losing new and existing customers to Microsoft.
Nothing against Search Server and it's free version, Search Server Express - but I think I'd have to go with option (2) above. Autonomy, Google and others have long had customers who used SharePoint, and they had 'pretty good solutions'. Now, a year after the acquisition was completed, both of these search giants and a number of smaller competitors are kicking off campaigns and launching newly improved products for integration their product with SharePoint. And Autonomy, with their recently announced acquisition of Interwoven, even has their own CMS competitor to SharePoint.
In the end, the winner will be the SharePoint customer. FAST ESP is one of the top search platforms, and a tight integration will benefit SharePoint users. But sometimes companies have reason to use other vendors for search, and a tighter integration will benefit these same SharePoint users as well.
Let the games begin!