Innovation is at the heart of our enterprise search strategy, and a commitment to innovation is what brought FAST and Microsoft together. When we announced the acquisition two years ago, we said that we were committed to cross-platform innovation—that we’d “continue to offer stand-alone versions of ESP that run on Linux and UNIX,” and that we would provide updates to these versions to address customer concerns and add new features. Over the last two years, we’ve done just that. We’ve continued to sell, support, and update the Linux and UNIX versions of FAST ESP, and we’ve designed the next wave of FAST products (scheduled for release in the first half of calendar year 2010) to include a cross-platform search core that has been extended to take advantage of web services and support mixed-platform deployment models.
With our 2010 products scheduled for release in a few months, we’ve just started to plan for our next wave of products. As a part of that planning process, we have decided that in order to deliver more innovation per release in the future, the 2010 products will be the last to include a search core that runs on Linux and UNIX.
Many of our customers run FAST ESP on Linux and UNIX today, and we recognize that our future focus on Windows means change. To ease the transition, we’re investing in interoperability between Windows and other operating systems, reaffirming our commitment to 10 years of support for our non-Windows products, and taking concrete steps to help customers plan for the future.
§ We will always interoperate with non-Windows systems on both the front- and back-end. Our search solutions will crawl and index content stored on Windows, Linux, and UNIX systems, and our UI controls will work with UI frameworks running on any operating system.
§ We will support ESP 5.3—the cross-platform search core in the 2010 products—for 10 years as per our standard support policy (5 years mainstream support and 5 years extended support). Non-Windows customers on ESP 5.3 can continue running their core on Linux and UNIX and add Windows-only innovations or cloud-based services by using a mixed-platform architecture.
§ We’re introducing a Customer Upgrade Program that will help customers evaluate our hosted solutions and/or a Windows-based deployment. The program will help customers assess level of effort, plan for the project, and implement the upgrade. (Customers should contact their account representative for more details.)
When FAST was founded back in 1997, we were told that it was too late to start a search company. The prevailing wisdom back then was that search was already a commodity: Verity had won the enterprise and AltaVista had won the web. More than ten years later, it’s clear that we’re just getting started. Today I actually see more opportunities than ever for search to change the world in profound ways—and I believe that innovation is the magic that will make it all happen. Although I understand that focusing on Windows will be a hard change for some of our customers, I’m convinced that it’s the right thing to do because it will accelerate our rate of innovation. By focusing on Windows we’ll be able to tap into a valuable set of competencies and assets across Microsoft and deliver better technologies more efficiently to our customers. I recognize that if you run FAST ESP on Linux and UNIX today, you’ll likely have a lot of questions over the next few days and weeks. There’s no immediate action required as a result of this announcement—and I expect that most of you will stay with your current deployments for some time. But I encourage you to contact your account representative to talk about what this means for you and to learn more about what we can do to help. We’re committed to working with you through the transition and look forward to partnering with you for success now and in the future.
Distinguished Engineer, Microsoft