Ongoing confusion in the land of MS search technology

  • 1-Aug-2008

The SharePoint IT Pro Documentation Team recently published a blog post on the various Microsoft "enterprise" search technologies. The post did a nice job of clarifying the role of each of Microsoft's various search tools, save FAST (but more on that in a bit). Even the post's author, Kathy Narvaez, admits she has trouble distinguishing the various "...flavors of Microsoft enterprise search;"  hence the blog post.

This post is significant for two reasons: first, she used the word "enterprise" when describing SharePoint search, as well as Search Server Express and Search Server 2008 (although she also used the term "entry level"); and second, there was absolutely no mention of FAST. In some ways, the exclusion of FAST could be a result of the continuing ambiguity around how Microsoft will integrate the tool into the overall product set. Further, this blog post is coming from the IT Pro Documentation group (think Infrastructure Team - TechNet, not MSDN subscribers) and they don't seem to be as close to the product teams as the developer-based bloggers.

As our Enterprise Search Report 2008 and SharePoint Report 2008 both point out, Microsoft does not have a particularly strong native search offering, especially when we consider search across multiple repositories of various types. I don't think anyone but Microsoft considers their offerings outside of FAST truly enterprise class or scale. And that's why this blog post is a bit surprising: it strikes me as odd that they have so much trouble controlling the language they use to describe their own products.

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