Microsoft is bolstering its enterprise-search product line-up via the acquisition of Norway-based Fast Search and Transfer for $1.23 billion, the Redmond software vendor announced January 8.
Fast Search offers a number of products in search, e-commerce, mobile and compliance/risk-management services. It sells its products through a variety of channels, including OEMs. Among its OEM partners are companies like CommVault, Hitachi Data Systems, LexisNexis and WebEx.
According to a Wikipedia entry on Fast Search, the company "has over the course of 2007 significantly moved out of this (enterprise search) business and towards search monetization and on-line advertising related businesses." I couldn't find anything on Fast Search's site to corroborate this, but if it is true, that would make Fast Search a nice complement to Microsoft's own online-advertising business.
Microsoft's enterprise-search strategy is focused on SharePoint Server, a family of back-end servers and services which includes content-management and search. Microsoft also offers a Microsoft-hosted version of SharePoint, known as Office SharePoint Online, which is currently targeted at companies with more than 5,000 seats.
Microsoft also sells a few dedicated enterprise search products, including Microsoft Search Server and the free, entry-level Microsoft Search Server Express product. (On Microsoft's Enterprise Search site, there's a chart comparing the features and functionality of Microsoft's existing enterprise search products.)
Remember what Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said about SharePoint last year: He characterized SharePoint as the next big operating system from Microsoft. More and more, it's looking like enterprise search functionality is one of the biggest reasons why.