I'm currently attending the FAST Search user conference (FASTforward 08), and yesterday Jared Spataro from Microsoft explained Microsoft's reasoning for buying FAST. (The shareholders have approved the deal, but it has not yet been completed.) He noted that the questions he gets always fall into three categories. Here are my notes from his speech:
- What’s in it for Microsoft: 18 months ago, Microsoft thought search was a set of features. Microsoft finally got religion during the SharePoint 2007 project. Consequently, a specialized team was formed to target search, and was made part of the SharePoint team. FAST came up to Microsoft right after FASTforward 2007 and demoed their capabilities. So Microsoft has been aware of FAST and its capabilities for over a year. Microsoft saw three differentiators with FAST--vision, people, technology—which is why it bought FAST rather than other vendors.
- What’s in it for FAST: Combine FAST’s depth (visionary innovations, passionate people, best-in-class technologies) and Microsoft's breadth (SharePoint momentum, complementary infrastructure technologies, sales and marketing engine) to gain faster adoption of FAST’s technologies.
- What’s in it for customers: FAST will continue to pursue both monetization (customer-facing, revenue-producing search applications) and enterprise (employee-facing, productivity-enhancing applications) segments. Customer-led innovation will continue. Customers can expect cross-platform support and innovation to continue.
I thought the most interesting part was the last bullet: Microsoft's comments that it does not plan to disrupt FAST's current segmentation strategy, that high-touch customer engagement will continue, and that it will support and extend search running on non-Windows platforms.