Changing the Enterprise-Class Search Landscape
Microsoft today announced Microsoft Search Server 2008 Express -- a downloadable Enterprise Search product available at no charge that combines simplicity and ease of use with a powerful set of search features. Microsoft Search Server 2008 Express joins Microsoft’s Enterprise Search lineup, which is built on the Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 platform.
To get a better idea of Microsoft’s approach to Enterprise Search and the strategy behind the new offerings, PressPass spoke with Kirk Koenigsbauer, general manager, SharePoint Business Group at Microsoft.
PressPass: What specifically did you announce today?
Koenigsbauer: We are announcing the availability of Microsoft Search Server 2008 Express, a new Enterprise Search product, available at no charge, that combines end-user simplicity with a powerful set of search features, including an easy-to-use administrative dashboard. The release also includes capabilities to connect securely to a wider range of enterprise content sources through new federation capabilities that utilize the Open Search standard as well as new connectors that index content across content management systems. We’re also eliminating the document limits imposed by many enterprise search solutions to improve total cost of ownership (TCO) and make it easier for companies to scale their search solutions as their needs grow. A release candidate is available today for customers to download and evaluate the product at http://www.microsoft.com/enterprisesearch.
Additionally, we announced Microsoft Search Server 2008, a sister offering available through our volume licensing program that contains advanced deployment and scalability options.
PressPass: What capabilities do these products give customers that they didn’t have before?
Koenigsbauer: There are a number of changes that companies will get excited about.
The first is that we’ve done a lot of work to make Microsoft Search Server easy for IT to deploy and manage. A lot of enterprise search systems fail because they are simply too hard for businesses to configure and maintain.
The second is we’re providing improved connectivity to a wider range of enterprise content sources. Part of this includes the new work around federation that provides customers with a simple way to connect their line-of-business systems, databases, and content management systems using the Open Search standard. We are also delivering connectors at no charge that index content in Documentum and FileNet.
The third thing is we’re clearly changing the economic model landscape for how businesses acquire search solutions. We’re offering a downloadable offering at no charge that will drive wider adoption of search solutions for end users and developers, while eliminating the clumsy document limits that reduce customer flexibility as their search needs grow.
PressPass: How would you explain the rapid growth of the Enterprise Search category in general?
Koenigsbauer: We’ve had Enterprise Search capabilities in several versions of Microsoft Office SharePoint Server, and increasingly it is becoming a key focus for our customers.
First, the exponential growth of information across companies of all sizes has created a new set of challenges for information workers. People simply can’t find the content they are looking for within their intranets and corporate systems – and there’s lots of it ranging from e-mail to Office documents to Web pages to line-of-business data. Information workers need greater search tools to securely find the relevant content they need and then be able to act on it, and that’s what we’re delivering.
Second, we’re also seeing search become the new navigation model inside corporate systems, like it’s become the de facto navigational model on the Web. Search is now not only inherent to enterprise portals but increasingly part of social computing systems, compliance systems, and line-of-business applications. Because of this, we’ve made big investments to integrate search deeply into Microsoft Office SharePoint Server and enable a rich model for developers to customize and utilize these search capabilities in their own applications.
PressPass: What is Microsoft’s Enterprise Search strategy and vision? What is Microsoft bringing to the Enterprise Search space that is unique in comparison to what already exists?
Koenigsbauer: We believe that Search will be pervasive as a core technology across all kinds of information management solutions, and is increasingly becoming the preferred way for people to find information. Our vision for Enterprise Search is to deliver that next level of information retrieval and search systems in the ways that customers really want them — as a part of the tools and technologies that they’re using every single day. This represents a significant change from the way the industry has traditionally approached enterprise search – and we’re incredibly excited about the possibilities.
The new Search Server Express is core to our strategy to broaden the appeal of search solutions to end users and developers. Businesses can have Search Server Express up and running in as little as 30 minutes, delivering secure, relevant results to their users at no charge and with the flexibility to run the solution on their own hardware. We’re doing away with the clumsy limits that make customers count their documents and very often prohibit scaling the system as their search needs grow. Further, the new federation and connector options will help end users find and act on a broader set of corporate data and information. It’s really an exciting time for customers in the search space.
PressPass: What is the partner opportunity for Microsoft Search Server 2008 and Microsoft Search Server 2008 Express?
Koenigsbauer: The partner opportunity is really thriving. A key component of our strategy is to recruit and enable a worldwide ecosystem of partners that can deliver, deploy, and develop on Microsoft’s search platform. Many of our partners are implementing SharePoint-based search solutions that span portals, customer facing Internet sites, extranets, and line-of-business systems . In fact we had more than 4,000 partners register for our QuickStart for Microsoft Search program last year, designed to help train and ready partners on our platform.
Partners tell us they see incredible value in selling services around standalone search implementations. However, they get even more excited about using the search workload as a “beachhead” to drive broader opportunities around, collaboration, enterprise content management, business intelligence, line-of-business systems, and so forth. So the growth in the search category coupled with SharePoint Server’s incredibly strong market momentum is creating tremendous opportunities for our partner ecosystem.
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