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February 10, 2009

Roadmap for FAST products inside of Microsoft - FAST Forward '09 Coverage

Microsoft is officially releasing details of its product roadmap FAST products

When Microsoft announced their acquisition of FAST a little more than 12 months ago, neither company was ready to discuss how the FAST ESP product line might be integrated into the Microsoft product family. We still don’t have the ultimate answer, but we do have a much better outline for the next two years or so.

At FAST Forward '09 in Las Vegas today Microsoft is disclosing that FAST's existing ESP 5.x product line will continue to be sold by the FAST sales force and reseller partners for Windows, Unix, and Linux systems. Pricing remains the same, and the company will enhance capabilities incrementally over the next year or two. Microsoft has announced plans to provide support for existing FAST products for 10 years.

Existing SharePoint customers can purchase ESP for SharePoint starting today for an aggressive price of $25K per server. In a change for FAST, the price is "per server", so customers will need to license ESP for development, staging, and production servers. Customers must have eCALs (Enterprise Client Access Licenses) for workstations performing searches with ESP. There will only be a few connectors available; we'll detail them in a follow up post. Note this ESP is for intranet use only - presumably crawling external content will be blocked, either via technology or via license. This release will presumably take advantage of the existing web parts already available on www.codeplex.com.

Sometime after initial release of "Office 14" in late 2009, FAST will release FAST Search for SharePoint, a fully re-written and tightly integrated search for SharePoint. No pricing information was available, and may not be for a while.

 The existing Microsoft Search Server and Search Server Express will continue to be available and supported using the existing search technology.

Some questions remain. For example, Microsoft Search Server qualifies as a pretty decent search technology, and its crawler can fetch data from intranet sites. ESP for SharePoint provides some exciting Enterprise Search 2.0 capabilities including faceted search, powerful search federation, and a wide variety of connectors, and for companies that need the capability can get it now.

What will the upgrade path be to migrate from ESP for SharePoint to FAST Search for SharePoint?  How will they be positioned versus Search Server?  Nonetheless, this announcement gives some guidance to current and potential customers that hasn't yet been provided.

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Comments

"What will the upgrade path be to migrate from ESP for SharePoint to FAST Search for SharePoint?"

-- reading between the lines and inferring from the briefing I got, but it looks like FAST Search for SharePoint will mostly be an administration UI on top of the same ESP engine. By the looks of it, you'd mainly switch UI, not the actual search software, so in theory, this could be pretty easy.

But you never know until you see it ;)

It was announced that SharePoint owners would have access to USE search through FAST ESP included in their Client Access License (CAL) and instances of FAST ESP would be priced at $25,0000 for use with SharePoint. It was not clear if this licensing fee included aggregation of content from other repositories.

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