MicroLink, a major player for Autonomy and for Microsoft in the federal; space, has been a reseller and implementation partner for both for years. As recently as last year, MicroLink started development of a very cool social search product that helped blur the lines between enterprise search and social search on the SharePoint platform, and had architected its application to sit on FAST as well as IDOL. There were even hints that they were eying a Lucene platform.
I would have loved to be able to hear the negotiations between Microsoft and Autonomy concerning access to internals of the FAST search engine currently being integrated tightly into SharePoint. The story we've heard is that the Microsoft negotiations contributed to the delay in the announcement, since apparently folks in both companies have had the news since at least Christmas.
It will be curious to see what happens now. We've always thought of MicroLink as a consulting firm, delivering implementation support. Mike Lynch, Autonomy's boss, has never had good things to say about consultants, and has certainly overseen the dwindling of the Verity consulting group he acquired a few years back. Either he's decided that independent consultants are bad, his consultants are good; or he's hoping he can reduce his 'days outstanding' receivables by bring the implementers in house. Let's hope it wasn't $55M spent just to gain access to the federal sales force.