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It didn't take long for Microsoft (MSFT) to lead the league (ie search industry) in acquisitions to start off 2008. Yesterday they (Microsoft) announced that it was purchasing FAST Search for an estimated $1.2 billion. Veterans in the search industry will remember FAST as a search engine that sold its Web search business to Overture for $70 million in 2003.
FAST was actually started in Norway in 1997 and now has global offices across six continents. The reason for Microsoft's interest? Enterprise Search. Enterprise search is a multi-billion dollar business. In fact, president of the Microsoft Business Division, Jeff Raikes said that enterprise search is becoming an indispensable tool for businesses of all sizes. Fast is a specialist in enterprise search, which consists of software and appliances that help corporate employees track down what they are looking for, typically behind the company firewall. According to the official Microsoft press release,
“Enterprise search is becoming an indispensable tool to businesses of all sizes, helping people find, use and share critical business information quickly,” said Jeff Raikes, president of the Microsoft Business Division. “Until now organizations have been forced to choose between powerful, high-end search technologies or more mainstream, infrastructure solutions. The combination of Microsoft and FAST gives customers a new choice: a single vendor with solutions that span the full range of customer needs.”
About Enterprise Search
Top players in the Enterprise Search market include Google (GOOG), IBM, Autonomy, Endeca, and Vivisimo. Whether your end users are customers, prospects, partners or employees Enterprise Search helps ensure that end users have access to the information that they need. Enterprise search allows users locate information quickly and easily, and discover new products and content that was previously hidden.
Comparison of Enterprise Search Solutions
Here's a quick look at some of the enterprise search solutions offered by current industry leaders:
Acquiring FAST gives Microsoft a strong standing in the Enterprise Search arena. This in conjunction with recent upgrades to their Live Search product may just be what they need to gain some search market search from current leader Google.