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SharePoint 2013 Search Part 1 – What happened to FAST?

We have now had a few months to try out SharePoint 2013 Preview and things are looking really exciting for Search. In this 5-part series of blog posts I will review the upgrade in technology, highlight some new features which I think are important and show how they relate to real-world scenarios.
In SharePoint 2010 we had the choice between regular SharePoint Search and FAST. It was a two tier approach, customers would choose FAST for its deep refinement, document preview as well as more advanced ranking and sorting capabilities. Of course regular SharePoint Search was cheaper but it was also a very capable engine and had a small advantage of being more tightly integrated with the rest of the product.
For 2013 Search Microsoft has taken the best of both approach. It’s now called ‘SharePoint Search’ but with all that FAST goodness baked in. A basic overview is that we have all the tight integration of the SharePoint crawler and connector framework but the power of FAST content and query processing.
Looking at the component interaction we can see a lot of similarities with the FAST search pipeline as well as some new components like Analytics which encompasses the wider site analytics functionality but also search-specific analytics.

SharePoint 2013 Component Interaction

SharePoint 2013 Component Interaction

FAST Search Components

FAST Search 2010 Components

Pulling together the two engines into one simplifies the message for customers and will reduce the decision to pure feature and cost evaluation between Standard and Enterprise. On a personal note I will not be sad to see the back of the label ‘FAST’. If you have ever ‘Bing’ed (or other popular search engined) a term with the keyword ‘FAST’ it does not always help you find what you are looking for!
We are yet to see the differences for search between Standard and Enterprise. One would imagine they will similar to the choices we made in 2010. However, what’s interesting in 2013 is we have a new licensing model whereby we can assign a specific license, Standard or Enterprise, on a per-user basis. I’m intrigued to see how this will affect customer decisions around search and how it will enable us to carve up search functionality.
SharePoint 2013 Search Series:
SharePoint 2013 Search Part 1 – What happened to FAST?
SharePoint 2013 Search Part 2 – Richer Query Language
SharePoint 2013 Search Part 3 – User Experience and WebParts
SharePoint 2013 Search Part 4 – Search Result Customization
SharePoint 2013 Search Part 5 – Search-based Solutions

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Chris Hines

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