This is huge news in the enterprise search business (like my previous job). Quick definition for the unfamiliar: Enterprise search is very expensive software that businesses license to operate their own search engines, often for internal use only. For example, a big company might spend $250,000 per year for software that allows them to search all of their company documents, reports, spreadsheets, and other files on shared storage throughout the company. It’s a very different problem than web search, and has a very different market.
Anyway, FAST is (I think) the biggest player in this market, and Microsoft hasn’t really played a strong role in it until now (except with the mediocre SharePoint and Live Search), so this is a big deal. They probably intend to offer FAST’s software as a high-end, high-priced version of the Live Search brand, heavily tied into SharePoint. Not only will they rake in the huge revenue from enterprise search directly, but they’ll also sell more expensive Windows Server licenses. (They could, for example, require that FAST runs on only the most expensive Enterprise Datacenter Architect Ultimate Whatever edition of Windows Server.)
I suspect this won’t be good news for many FAST customers. I’d also expect to see some top-talent departures from FAST, as with most acquisitions of this size. Fortunately, this is great news for the rest of the enterprise search business: they’ll have a lot of new customers and talented staff to choose from.
(Thanks for the tip, Daily Meh.)