Findability Blog: Wrapping up the 2010 posts

Christmas is finally here and at Findwise we are taking a few days off to spend time with family and friends.

During 2010 we’ve delivered more than 25 successful projects, arranged breakfast seminars to talk about customer solutions (based on Microsoft, IBM, Autonomy and Open source), meet-ups in a number of cities as well as networking meetings for profound Findability discussions and moving in parties for our new offices.

At our Findability blog we have been discussing technology and vendor solutions (Microsoft and FAST, Autonomy, IBM, Google and open source), researchconferences, customized solutions and how to find a balance between technology and people.

Some of our posts have resulted in discussions, both on our own blog and in other forums. Please get involved in some of the previous ongoing discussions on “Solr Processing Pipeline”,  “Search and Business Intelligence” or “If a piece of content is never read, does it exist?”  if you have thoughts to share.

Findability blog is taking a break and we will be back with new posts is January.

If you have some spare time during the vacation some of customers run their own blogs, and good reading tips within Findability are the blogs driven by Kristian Norling (VGR) and Alexandra Larsson (Swedish armed forces).

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all!

Search in SharePoint 2010

This week there has been a lot of buzz about Microsoft’s launch of SharePoint 2010 and Office 2010. Since SharePoint 2007 has been the quickest growing server product in the history of Microsoft, the expectations on SharePoint 2010 are tremendous. And also great expectations for search in Sharepoint 2010

Apart from a great deal of possibilities when it comes to content creation, collaboration and networking, easy business intelligence etc. the launch also holds another promise: that of even better capabilities for search in Sharepoint 2010 (with the integration of FAST).

Since Microsoft acquired FAST in 2008, there have been a lot of speculations about what the future SharePoint versions may include in terms of search. And since Microsoft announced that they will drop their Linux and UNIX versions in order to focus on higher innovation speed, Microsoft customer are expecting something more than the regular. In an early phase it was also clear that Microsoft is eager to take market shares from the growing market in internet business.

So, simply put, the solutions that Microsoft now provide in terms of search is solutions for Business productivity (where the truly sophisticated search capabilities are available if you have Enterprise CAL-licenses, i.e. you pay for the number of users you have) and Internet Sites (where the pricing is based on the number of servers). These can then be used in a number of scenarios, all dependent on the business and end-user needs.
Microsoft has chosen to describe it like this:

  • Foundation” is, briefly put, basic SharePoint search (Site Search).
  • Standard” adds collaboration features to the “Foundation” edition and allows it to tie into repositories outside of SharePoint.
  • Enterprise ” adds a number of capabilities, previously only available through FAST licenses, such as contextual search (recognition of departments, names, geographies etc), ability to tag meta data to unstructured content, more scalability etc.

I’m not going to go into detail, rather just conclude that the more Microsoft technology the company or organization already use, the more benefits it will gain from investing in SharePoint search capabilities.

And just to be clear:  non-SharePoint versions (stand-alone) of FAST are still available, even though they are not promoted as intense as the SharePoint ones.

Apart from Microsoft’s overview above, Microsoft Technet provides a more deepdrawing description of the features and functionality from both an end-user and administrator point of view.

We look forward describing the features and functions in more detail in our upcoming customer cases. If you have any questions to our SharePoint or FAST search specialist, don’t hesitate to post them here on the blog. We’ll make sure you get all the answers.

FAST goes Microsoft for Real – Drops Linux and UNIX Versions

“Innovation is at the heart of our enterprise search strategy, and a commitment to innovation is what brought FAST and Microsoft together.”

says Bjørn Olstad, Microsoft Distinguished Engineer, in his blog post published this Thursday. And further more

“As a part of that planning process, we have decided that in order to deliver more innovation per release in the future, the 2010 products will be the last to include a search core that runs on Linux and UNIX.”

The decision to do so is hardly a surprise to those who have been following FASTs development since the acquisition in 2008. Microsoft was last year ranked as no 1 in Gartner’s ‘Magic Quadrant’ for Information Access, an expression for the company’s single-mindedness struggle to remain the customers’ first choice when it comes to information retrieval. A strong focus and fast innovation is essential to keep this position.

Bjørn Olstad blog post holds a promise for non-Windows customers saying

“We will always interoperate with non-Windows systems on both the front- and back-end. Our search solutions will crawl and index content stored on Windows, Linux, and UNIX systems, and our UI controls will work with UI frameworks running on any operating system”

Even so, the decision states a new era and it will be interesting to follow the development. A lot of the larger companies worldwide already have a Microsoft strategy, and this might even be an opportunity to switch towards FAST. For others Björn Olstads blog post is also giving a hint about cloud-support, where a hosted solution might solve headaches.

However, the most interesting statement is the accalerated speed of innovation. Even though the last Magic Quadrant stated Microsoft as a clear leader, others are following right behind and established vendors such as Autonomy as well as new players such as Lucid Imagination are responding to Microsofts offerings with new and innovative solutions. We will continue to report about this and Microsofts roadmap, so visit us from time to time to stay updated.

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.

Microsoft SharePoint Conference 2009 in Las Vegas

I will attend to the SharePoint Conference 2009 in Las Vegas USA between the 19-22 October. This will be the perfect opportunity to learn more about upcoming release of SharePoint 2010 and from Findwise perspective, the new FAST Search For SharePoint.

Since Findwise have several years of experience of integrating FAST ESP and SharePoint this will be a great opportunity to meet us face-to-face and talk about how FAST ESP could help you in your future implementations.

Looking forward to meet you!

Roadmap FAST Search for Sharepoint and Internet Business

In view of the fact that it has been a year since Microsoft acquired FAST search, there has been a lot of hush-hush about the Enterprise search roadmap. However, at the yearly FAST forward conference, Microsoft’s press release Microsoft Unveils New Enterprise Search Road Map reached the public.

There are no big surprises, but a lot of interesting details to come. Briefly speaking Microsoft is focusing on two areas: search to enhance business productivity and search to earn money online.

Sharepoint and FAST ESP

Here at Findwise we have been working with customers integrating SharePoint and FAST ESP for some time, and ESP certainly adds a lot of value by extending SharePoint’s main strengths: content management and collaboration. Office 14, which will probably see the light early next year, will hopefully add more flexibility to their infrastructure solutions out of the box.

More information about the licensing models are yet to come and even though FAST search will continue to develop ESP as a standalone (to run on both Unix and Linux), the roadmap ties existing and potential Microsoft customers closer by presenting search as an integrated part of their business productivity offering.

As for FAST Search Internet Business Microsoft’s target group are companies looking for earning money online. During FAST forward 2007 there was a lot of talk about the future search driven portals and during the 2008 event about the ability to understanding user intent.

Today online consumers have higher expectations when it comes to search and the ability to show related information (such as Amazon’s “people that bought this product also bought”..) as well as showing contextual advertising (related to search terms, geographical location etc) and recommendations will create loyal customers. FAST search has quite a few customers using search for strategic online business so one should keep an eye on the release of the new beta version during 2009.

If you read Swedish, Helge Legernes, one of the founders of Findwise is giving his comment in Computer Sweden.

Autonomy Extends its Business Model with Compliance

On January 22:nd, Interwoven entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by Autonomy, for a total transaction value of approximately $775 million.

Ever since Microsoft’s acquisition of FAST there have been quite a few discussions in blogs and forums whether any of the giants such as Oracle, IBM or even Google would make an attractive offer for Autonomy. The company has, during the last few years, always been a clear leading candidate within Enterprise Search and its range of offerings within Multimedia, Digital Asset Management and Information management solutions has made the customer base grow faster than ever.

However, the acquisition of Interwoven shows that Autonomy is serious when it comes to growing on its own premises. The product portfolio now contains a strong offering for legal and compliance and Autonomy has, once more, proven that they prefer to extend and strengthen their business model.

According to the press release the companies ‘share a vision to fundamentally change the way organizations discover, analyze and manage information’.

Beyond the buzzwords, there seems to be a clear vision and it will be interesting to see how this affects Enterprise Search in general and Autonomys future direction in particular.