FAST prepping desktop search, platform upgrade

Fast Search & Transfer (FAST) by the end of the year plans to launch its entry into the hot market for desktop search as well as deliver an update to its Fast Enterprise Search Platform (ESP).

FAST is working on a server-based desktop search product that is currently in internal beta testing, according to Rob Lancaster, vice president of channel development at FAST.

FAST does not want to compete directly against Web search giants Microsoft and Google in the desktop space, but sees value in unifying the desktop across the enterprise, he said.

"Microsoft and Google will commoditize the desktop search market. It will be part of the OS. There are short-term gains to be made, but not long-term," Lancaster said.

The FAST desktop search product will be separate from the FAST ESP, but part of the core platform and sharing the same code base. The desktop tool will also have a client side application.

"Whatever we do will leverage a common code set. We see desktop search as an extension of the server platform," Lancaster said.

Version 5.0 of FAST ESP, also due by end of the year, will feature improvements focused around the areas of contextual search and structured data.

"A key focus is on contextual search -- search [that] has ability to detect relationships between people and objects," Lancaster said. "It is easy to tie information sets together. What is hard is making sense of that information once it is tied together. [You] need contextual awareness in an information set."

In addition, structured data is emerging as a huge opportunity for search vendors, he said.

"Search can give more relevant access to large data stores," Lancaster said.

FAST also is accelerating its channel strategy by landing OEM deals with large software vendors such as EMC and Siebel Systems.

"Our channel strategy is to embed FAST in the IT DNA," he said.

"Very large software vendors moving into enterprise search space. If we don't increase our footprint and specialise, we won't succeed," he said.

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