The Olympic Games and US Presidential Elections come around every four years but SharePoint upgrades come on a three year cycle. There are still organizations using SharePoint 2007 and in the process of migrating to SharePoint 2010 and now we have SharePoint 2013 in all its glory.  

Microsoft also seems to be hinting that in future there could be more frequent upgrades. Before long you will probably be able to major in Microsoft Upgrade and Migration Planning at most major universities.

My particular interest is in enterprise search and here I have to congratulate Microsoft on the progress it has made since the fairly terrible search functionality in SharePoint 2007. The company was also smart enough to go out and buy FAST Search and Transfer in 2008, but not quite smart enough about financial due diligence and building a sensible search technology strategy for itself and for SharePoint.

The Technology Story So Far

The immediate result was the arrival of FAST Search Server for SharePoint 2010, abbreviated to FS4SP. This took a lot of the components of FAST ESP 5.3, suitably modified to SharePoint 2010, and offered a substantial enhancement to SharePoint Search 2010 which itself was a significant leap forward from the search offering in SharePoint 2007.

Two issues immediately became obvious. First, many companies were convinced that they now had a licence for FAST ESP 5.3 and had no idea of the real state of affairs. Second, no one in the Microsoft partner community had any idea of how to get the best (or indeed anything at all!) out of FS4SP. My experience says that not that much has changed since launch unless the company has brought in external implementation expertise.

In 2010 Wrox published "Professional Microsoft Search" by Mark Bennett and his colleagues that covered all the Microsoft search products (including FAST ESP 5.3) in 450 pages. It is an excellent book because of the substantial amount of guidance it gives on the skills and management attention needed to get the best out of any search application.