Microsoft sells off part of its FAST enterprise-search acquisition

Summary:Microsoft has sold off two units of Fast Search and Transfer, the Norweigian enterprise search company it bought in 2008 for $1.23 billion, to Rocket Software. Rocket announced the sale on December 2.

Microsoft has sold off two units of Fast Search and Transfer, the Norweigian enterprise search company it bought in 2008 for $1.23 billion, to Rocket Software.

Microsoft isn't saying how much it received for the sale of Fast's Folio and NXT units, both of which facilitate the management online content. In fact, the Redmondians are saying very little at all about the sale, announced on December 2.

There is a frequently asked questions (FAQ) document about the sale on Rocket's Web site. That document says that Microsoft decided to sell the two assets to Rocket "to provide ongoing support and services to partners and customers who are using these products."

Rocket, according to the FAQ, Rocket is a 750-employee enterprise-infrastructure software vendor, headquartered in Newton, Mass., that has a "long history of acquiring strong product lines." Rocket is taking over sales and support for the Folio and NXT products.

According to the press release announcing the sale, Folio, founded in 1987, was subsequently owned by Mead Data Central (the Lexis/Nexis people), Open Market and NextPage before its technology was acquired by Fast in 2004.

Microsoft officials said earlier this year they plan to integrate Fast search with SharePoint Server 2010. Fast’s technology soups up the enterprise search capabilities that are part of SharePoint Server. Fast adds more sophisticated user-interface elements, like thumbnail and preview views; cluster support and more compute-intensive tasks like entity abstraction and the creation of relationships between concepts. In the longer term, Microsoft’s goal is to make the Fast ESP technology the underlying kernel for all other enterprise products at Microsoft that incorporate search technology.

Update: Microsoft provided me with a statement about the deal via a corporate spokesperson. (Seeing the "December 3" reference in this statement makes me wonder whether this announcement went out a day earlier than the Softies expected):

"On December 3rd, Microsoft transitioned its Folio and NXT products, services, and support over from FAST to Rocket Software. These products relate to CD Publishing and are non-core to the Microsoft SharePoint business. Transitioning these assets to Rocket Software for ongoing support and services will help partners and customers who are using these products continue to be successful with their investments in those products. Microsoft remains fully committed to enterprise search and looks forward to delivering SharePoint 2010 to its customers in June. "

Topics: Microsoft, Collaboration, Enterprise Software


Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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