What happens to FAST ESP?

After the Microsoft takeover of FAST almost three years ago, it’s been silent and no new updates of ESP. We all know that MS discontinued Linux support, and that the major focus with the FAST technology has been to power the high-end search for Sharepoint 2010. ESP was forked and heavily modified to integrate smoothly with Windows, SQL server, AD, PowerShell and more, and it made the leap to 64 bit – finally!

But what about non Sharepoint users? MS has an offering to them as well, called FAST Search for Internet Sites. Read Comperio’s excellent blog article about it. A bit disappointing that the core is still the more than three year old ESP5.3 wrapped in new MS APIs, but cool that you can still hack the ESP internals..

This figure from the book “Professional Microsoft Search” shows an overview of where the ESP  based offerings fit into the overall product offerings from MS:

20©10 Wrox publishing

Question is; what is the long term outlook for FSIS? It can obviously not stay on the aging ESP5.3 core forever. Will Microsoft upgrade this product or just put it on the last page of the price sheet to have an answer if someone asks? Can the SP version be adapted to work standalone? Perhaps. But it too is in desperate need of a new modern search core. I guess we can assume that since a new book pops up mentioning FAST ESP explicitly, we can expect it to stick around for some while… Give your thoughts about the future of non-sharepoint search from Microsoft.

Comments (4)

  1. I couldn’t find Comperio’s blog, can you post a link?

    I doubt very much if Microsoft will put effort into FSIS. All the current evidence (and my recent experience from industry conferences) points towards them pushing Sharepoint, even for those who don’t think they need it. It’s clear to me that Microsoft bought FAST just to fix the search in Sharepoint.

    As your previous blog post mentions, I think we’re going to see a lot more FAST->Solr migrations over the next few years.

  2. Sorry about that Charlie. I put the link to Comperio’s blog in there now 🙂

  3. Hi Jan!

    You comment sparked a discussion on Comperio’s Socialcast community. I’ll do my best to summarize it here.

    We have been hearing about Mars for two years now. Some say it was all but ready to be deployed when MS came along. Is Mars a “new modern search core” ?

    Yes, Mars supports/supported sub-second indexing speeds, refiners on any field at query time (solr style), and threw out all notion of index profiles. That’s pretty modern compared to the ESP core.

    On one particular project back in the summer of 2006, someone struggled to incorporate exceptionally long queries (lots of ORs), which wasn’t very good for performance. FAST R&D helped to optimize, but it pretty much just boiled down to: “Just wait for Mars already! It’s gonna blow your mind”!

    Mars supposedly also brought support for JOIN-like operations. And a MarsReader task has been spotted in presentation of FSIS/IMS from FAST. Finally, the Security Access Module incorporates some core MARS components. Just check the SAM installation folder and you will find loads of MARS references.

    I hope you find this interesting!


  4. Jan,

    Glad to hear you liked the article I wrote!

    I wouldn’t go as far as to say the core is exactly the same as before the acquisition. We’ve seen a lot of stability and performance updates to both the Windows and the Unix versions since then (SP4 actually was released just last week). That being said… you certainly raise some legitimate and very interesting questions! Let’s see what the future brings… 😉

    Thanks for stopping by!

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