Last February Microsoft (news, site) announced that it was discontinuing mainstream and extended UNIX and Linux support for its FAST search technology. There was some speculation that in doing so it hoped that it could drag Linux and UNIX users into its Windows stable. However, Autonomy (news, site) has been quick to see and seize the opportunity this decision provided.

With the December 31st discontinuance date ‘fast’ approaching, it has launched the Put FAST in the Past marketing campaign.


For enterprises and vendors currently using FAST, Microsoft’s decision has the potential to become a real headache. They either move across or switch to an entirely new infrastructure and operating system, or they find an enterprise search technology that works with existing deployments.

Autonomy, in launching their Put FAST in the Past campaign, is offering IDOL as an alternative solution that will future-proof their existing infrastructure.

IDOL, around which Autonomy has built much of its software, searches not just by keywords or phrases, but far more effectively, by concept too.

In fact, even historically, IDOL fits the bill quite nicely. Since 2007 Autonomy has been offering it to provide a flexible framework for the management of structured and unstructured information in MOSS across the enterprise.

It also integrates with many of the software packages that are likely to be found in current enterprise deployments including content management, archiving, records management and rich media management.

“Put FAST in the Past”

So what does this all mean? It means that for enterprises that decide on the Autonomy program, a migration tool will index all an organizations data, which can be searched from within Microsoft applications.

Other components of the FAST in the Past deal include:

  • Autonomy will match FAST license implementation with like-for-like capability on all platforms (there is 50% off the organization's original license fee for orders placed before December 31st).
  • A conceptual search and a SharePoint connector free of charge

Microsoft and FAST

On the surface it seems like a good business decision. IDC's (news, search) Worldwide Search and Discovery Software Report showed that UNIX, Linux and other operating systems accounted for 65% of market share in 2009.

This is a market that has already made substantial investments in business applications and technology products that run on these operating systems and ones that are now effectively being told by MS that they’ll have to change.

Microsoft says it announced the move on the back of the SharePoint 2010 and Office 2010 releases and that the purpose of focusing FAST on Windows was so they would be able to offer more FAST innovation with future releases.

At the time, it also looked like they were trying to pry enterprises away from UNIX and Linux. FAST chief technology officer Bjørn Olstad, in a MS Enterprise Search blog posting, said that over the transition period they would be offering an upgrade program to move customers to a hosted search service or FAST on Windows.

 . . .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,"Olstad said

That’s all very well and good, but no one really likes to be told what to do and if a company like Autonomy can offer an alternative, it could turn out to be very popular. And then there’s still Lucene and Solr. Seems like there really are alternatives after all.