SPC09 Day 2 – FAST Search for SharePoint Made “SharePoint Easy”

After a great evening with Microsoft Sweden touring around Las Vegas, having dinner at the Stratosphere and a good night sleep today’s session started of. Today’s focus has been deep dives in to the different areas. For me it has been deep dives in Sharepoint Search and FAST Search for Sharepoint.

First of was sessions about Sharepoint Search functions and depolyment. This was more or less going through the different functionality that I wrote about yesterday. A thew new things did thou come up, things like crawler policy’s, avoiding that your index is empties just because the web site that you crawl is on service during crawl time, connector framework that now supports developing connectors in .NET and configuration of the whole search service through PowerShell.

But now to the more exiting thing, FAST Search for SharePoint 2010. This something that it has been really quite about. It has gone 18 months since the acquisition of FAST and during that time not much information about the upcoming version has leaked out. But from yesterday everything is made public. There is even gona come a public beta of FAST Search for SharePoint in November for everyone to test it out.

The most exiting thing about this new version of FAST is that it’s almost completely integrated within SharePoint. With almost is that the installation of FAST is still done on separated servers and has it’s own installation program, though simplified. But after completion of installation and node setup (done in a deployment.xml config file) everything is done in the SharePoint central administration interface or through PowerShell. There is not even the possibility any longer to make configurations through config files in the installation of FAST. Some more advanced configurations and extensions can be made through .NET libraries and PowerShell, for example document processing steps. I will know more about this after tomorrows sessions.

Connectors in new FAST are no longer used as before. They are integrated into SharePoint instead. It’s even the same connector for SharePoint search and FAST Search for SharePoint. Setup is done in the same way to ease the transition from SharePoint Search to FAST.

People search in SharePoint 2010 will, even though you use FAST Search For SharePoint, be handled by SharePoint search. And as Jeff Fried sad “why try to set this up in FAST Search for SharePoint when the people search in SharePoint already is amazing”.

Now it’s time for one of the biggest beach parties that Las Vegas ever has hosted here at Mandal Bay Hotel. Over 7000 crazy SharePoint geeks are going to rock there pants of to the sound of the 80’s.

SPC09 Day 1 (Las Vegas) – A New Choice in Enterprise Search

Today the initial key notes and session on the Microsoft SharePoint Conference 2009 has begun here in Las Vegas. The conference is fully booked with over 7400 registered attendees and is hosted at the Mandala Bay Hotel. There are over 240 different sessions covering everything within the new version of SharePoint 2010. SharePoint 2010 is schedules to be released during the first half of next year however a public beta will be available now in November. I will try to cover the Enterprise Search perspective of this conference and summarize new features and functions in this blog.

The conference was started up through two key notes held by among others Steve Ballmer (CEO of Microsoft) and Jeff Teper (VP). They introduces new features in SharePoint 2010 on all levels from both really deep technical to end user perspective. Showing a lot of new cool features, where one feature was especially sticking out and that was Search. They all pointed out over and over again the importance of search as the core functionality of everything.

Enterprise Search

My first sessions during this conference was on Enterprise Search and the overview of this. A lot of new concepts and functions are introduced. I will try here to summarize some of the new functions in a list.

Sharepoint 2010 and Search Server 2010 (Not all is supported in Search Server)

  • Wildcard search support
  • Phonetic Spelling on person name searches
  • Partitioned index/query (for scaling purposes)
  • Support for up to 100 Million documents
  • Zero query search – Used for using search as navigation
  • Query Suggestion
  • Refinement from meta data (Shallow navigators)
  • Related Searches
  • Federate Searches with Desktop
  • Rating/Language used for relevance tuning
  • View related content in people search
  • Multiple crawler

FAST Search for SharePoint

  • All above from SharePoint searches (some times they are even supposed to work together like people search is still done through SharePoint search)
  • Visual preview and thumbnails
  • Same APIs as SharePoint
  • All administration is done through SharePoint administration
  • Similar results
  • Deep refinement navigators
  • Entity extraction
  • Visual Best bet
  • Contextual Search
  • No index profile any more. Everything is set through SharePoint administration even Navigators and meta data mappings.
  • Can use BCS for connecting to other systems
  • User context searching. Promote/denote documents and changing relevance after users context
  • New search interface

That was a summary of the new features that is to come. I will come back every day to post updates and more detailed information about these features. To finish of I want to quote Microsoft: This is a quantum leap in Enterprise Search.