Fast Search aims to steal Verity customers, partners

Fast is going after the clients and partners of competitor Verity, which is being acquired by Autonomy.

Enterprise search vendor Fast Search & Transfer has created a program to snatch clients away from its competitor Verity, which is in the process of being acquired by Autonomy.

The program, unveiled this week, is called Fast Safe Passage and is designed to persuade both customers and partners to ditch Verity and migrate over to Fast Search, the company said Monday.

The moment is ripe for an overture such as this one, because there is uncertainty over what will happen to Verity products and partner programs after the Autonomy deal is finalized, said Rob Lancaster, Fast Search's vice president of channel development.

"Any time there is consolidation or M&A (mergers and acquisition) activity within an industry it creates opportunities for other leaders in the space," he said.

Verity announced its agreement to be acquired by Autonomy on Nov. 4, and the deal is expected to close either in late 2005 or early 2006, pending customary approvals, a Verity spokeswoman said Thursday.

Lancaster noted that about 25 percent of his company's revenue growth over the past 12 months has been generated from Autonomy and Verity partners and customers who have defected to Fast Search.

With its new program, Fast Search is offering a range of incentives to Verity customers, OEM (original equipment manufacturer) partners and channel partners, such as resellers and system integrators.

"The reason behind this specific offering is to remove all financial and technical risks for the Verity customer interested in switching over to Fast," Lancaster said.

Under the Fast Safe Passage program, Fast Search is offering customers migration support services; credit for any pre-payments made to Verity; a pre-determined fixed price for the migration; and a zero-downtime guarantee while the switch is made.

Meanwhile, OEM partners can get discounts on OEM term agreements, determined on a case-by-case basis, and protection against existing pre-payments made to Verity. They also can get access to Fast InStream, which is the version of Fast's Enterprise Search Platform (ESP) software designed for OEMs to embed in their own products.

Channel partners, such as resellers and system integrators, are being offered discounted pricing on Fast Search training, and access to the company's product portfolio and channel team. Both OEMs and channel partners are also being offered free enrollment for the first year in the Fast X10 Partner Program, which has an annual cost of US$2,995 per year, Lancaster said. Finally, Fast Search also is offering a free, one-day "best practices" workshops to customers, OEMs and channel partners alike.

Adina Crossley, Verity's director of partner programs and channel marketing, declined to comment about Fast Search's program, but she highlighted an announcement Verity made Wednesday, touting recent improvements to its own OEM partnership program.

These improvements include new OEM versions of Verity's K2 Developer application development platform, KeyView viewing, filtering and conversion software development kits (SDKs), and Liquid BPM (business process management) workflow SDK, she said Thursday.

Features in K2 Developer 6.0 include XML (extensible markup language) query support, application programming interfaces, a new management console and improved user interface navigation. And Verity has added enhanced support for a host of applications and file formats, including Adobe PDF 1.6, Autodesk AutoCAD, Lotus Notes, Eudora 6.2 and Mozilla Thunderbird 1.0, to Verity KeyView SDKs 9.0, Crossley said. In addition, Verity LiquidBPM SDK 4.0 now has an Enterprise JavaBeans interface and an embedded Web application server for more flexibility and more rapid deployment, she said.

Last week, Google launched a program to entice customers from other enterprise search vendors to replace their products with Google's Search Appliance. At the time, a Google executive acknowledged that the company was in particular targeting Verity customers who might be jittery over the Autonomy acquisition.

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