Vedant Kulshreshtha

I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.

FAST and SharePoint 2007

FAST and SharePoint 2007

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For some time, I have been working on pre-sales engagements for FAST search based solutions. I get lot of queries from SharePoint developers/architects - what is "FAST" and how it works with SharePoint etc. I am sharing some information below. The links within this post will take you to webpages with more information.

Microsoft’s plans to acquire FAST were originally announced Jan. 8, 2008 (ref: Microsoft Announces Offer to Acquire Fast Search & Transfer). Tender offer was completed on Apr. 25, 2008 (ref: Microsoft Completes Tender Offer for FAST Search & Transfer). FAST operates as a Microsoft subsidiary, with a dedicated enterprise search research and development center in Oslo, Norway, and offices throughout the world.

FAST will continue to support non-Microsoft platforms – “Further innovation across the entire enterprise search portfolio — on Microsoft Windows as well as on Linux and UNIX — will help ensure that Microsoft and FAST customers receive best-in-class offerings to meet their current and future needs.”.

You can read about FAST Solution offerings on their website. To know more about who uses FAST, you can check the Partial FAST Customers List. This page also gives links to case studies available.

Besides the usual full-text enterprise search across multiple data sources, FAST can be used to power Research portals, Unified customer views, Competitive intelligence portals, Compliance & risk mgmt, e-Commerce, Classifieds, Directories and many many more such interesting and otehrwise challenging scenarios.

Microsoft Enterprise Search Product Portfolio

Microsoft has 4 products as part of the ‘Enterprise Search” product portfolio:

  1. Microsoft Search Server 2008 Express
  2. Microsoft Search Server 2008
  3. Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007
  4. FAST ESP

These have a clear and differentiating product positioning and differ in features, capabilities and pricing. To identify the correct product for your customer, check the technical requirements and key end-user scenarios. Read the information on Microsoft enterprise search products website for more details and comparison table.

In the Gartner 2008 Magic Quadrant for Information Access Technology , Microsoft is positioned in Leaders Quadrant.

Want to know more? 

I would recommend viewing:

The FASTforward’09 event in Feb 2009 has lot of interesting sessions planned on FAST and SharePoint.

FAST and SharePoint Integration

Besides the powerful FAST Query Language, FAST ESP APIs are available for pushing documents into search engine, programmatic access to queries and results, processing content prior to indexing and administration tasks. Many APIs have options of Java, C++ and .NET. SharePoint developers can use the .NET API interface to create web parts for integrating with FAST. Technologies like Silverlight and AJAX can be leveraged to create an engaging search experience for users in SharePoint portals.

The FAST SharePoint 2007 Connector is a set of software components that extracts information from Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 and feeds it to the FAST ESP (Enterprise Search Platform) for indexing. The connector is installed as an add-on to an existing FAST ESP installation. The SharePoint Connector reads access control information from SharePoint and creates an Access Control List (ACL) that is indexed along with the SharePoint content

On the CodePlex, FAST ESP Web Parts for SharePoint Server 2007 are available as part of the Search Community Toolkit. The Search Community Toolkit is comprised of a number of tools and code samples that have been contributed to enhance the Microsoft search experience (Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 (MOSS) Search, Search Server 2008 and Search Server 2008 Express).

Who’s Blogging?

Though I have not yet noticed many SharePoint bloggers blogging about FAST or its integration with SharePoint, Paul Galvin has been blogging about FAST and SharePoint integration. Let me know if you know of any others.

 

Comments
  • This is the first post from a planned series on the FAST ESP platform to increase product awareness in

  • http://blogs.technet.com/vedant/archive/2009/01/24/fast-and-sharepoint-2007.aspx This blog post contains

  • Top News Stories SharePoint Service Pack 2 - Helping Prepare for SharePoint 2010 (CMS Wire) Just like

  • I need answers to some of the questions:

    1. Is there any limitation of number of entries in the following xml configuration nodes:

    IncludeWebUrls, ExcludeWebUrls

    2. Can SharePoint Connector take a config file via http protocol instead of a local file?

    3. Is a connector config file read once at program start only or is it re-read during crawl progress? In other words, is it safe to update config file while connector is running and changes will not be applied until next connector run?

    4. How to calculate required retention period for SharePoint Change Log:

    Assuming a full crawl takes 20 days and incremental crawl takes 7 days and there is one day gap between full crawl finished and incremental crawl started, and next incremental crawl started the next day the previous one finished.

    Is the minimal required retention period for the described scenario 20+1+7+1 = 29 days?

    5. In the above scenario, what happens if an incremental crawl is interrupted and must start over again, so it cannot be finished before change log expires? Will the full crawl be necessary?

    Please someone reply if you have any answers. email me at amol-meshram@hotmail.com

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