Microsoft Delivers a Bundle of Joy

February 10, 2009
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The news, which has been an open secret among enterprise search insiders for a while, is finally official: Microsoft announced at FASTForward ‘09 that they will be bundling the FAST enterprise search product with their SharePoint product. To be more precise, it will be available as a $25K /server add-on for SharePoint customers. Considering the total cost of a typical SharePoint deployment, that’s practically free. Or, as Mark Bennett put it, an “aggressive price.”

Who are the winners and losers here? Unclear. Is this initiative aimed at Autonomy, Endeca, or Google? At all of the above? What are the implications for FAST’s legacy ESP 5.x customers, who have been promised 10 years of support?

My take: Microsoft sees SharePoint + FAST as a response to Autonomy + Interwoven, or vice versa – Microsoft’s acquisition predates Autonomy’s by a year. Both companies seem to believe that, in order to sell a search engine, they need to bundle it into a content management system.

Not everyone believes that. Google and Endeca are focusing on search as the main prize, not to mention a slew of smaller vendors. We may all disagree on the right way to crack the search nut, but we haven’t given up on b

The news, which has been an open secret among enterprise search insiders for a while, is finally official: Microsoft announced at FASTForward ‘09 that they will be bundling the FAST enterprise search product with their SharePoint product. To be more precise, it will be available as a $25K /server add-on for SharePoint customers. Considering the total cost of a typical SharePoint deployment, that’s practically free. Or, as Mark Bennett put it, an “aggressive price.”

Who are the winners and losers here? Unclear. Is this initiative aimed at Autonomy, Endeca, or Google? At all of the above? What are the implications for FAST’s legacy ESP 5.x customers, who have been promised 10 years of support?

My take: Microsoft sees SharePoint + FAST as a response to Autonomy + Interwoven, or vice versa – Microsoft’s acquisition predates Autonomy’s by a year. Both companies seem to believe that, in order to sell a search engine, they need to bundle it into a content management system.

Not everyone believes that. Google and Endeca are focusing on search as the main prize, not to mention a slew of smaller vendors. We may all disagree on the right way to crack the search nut, but we haven’t given up on building a better nutcracker.

Did Microsoft pay $1.2B just to upgrade SharePoint Search? I’m only a researcher, so perhaps I don’t appreciate the economics of the transaction. I’m just glad not to be the guy who will ever have to justify that decision to my manager, let alone a board of directors.

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