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Microsoft Phasing Out FAST Search For Linux, Unix 146

Posted by Soulskill
from the going-away dept.
viralMeme writes "Microsoft plans to begin phasing out Unix and Linux platform support for its FAST enterprise search products, as of its next release. According to a Thursday blog post from Microsoft Distinguished Engineer Bjørn Olstad, 'We’ve continued to sell, support, and update the Linux and UNIX versions of FAST ESP, and we’ve designed the next wave of FAST products (scheduled for release in the first half of calendar year 2010) to include a cross-platform search core that has been extended to take advantage of web services and support mixed-platform deployment models. With our 2010 products scheduled for release in a few months, we’ve just started to plan for our next wave of products. As a part of that planning process, we have decided that in order to deliver more innovation per release in the future, the 2010 products will be the last to include a search core that runs on Linux and UNIX. Many of our customers run FAST ESP on Linux and UNIX today, and we recognize that our future focus on Windows means change. 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.'"
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Microsoft Phasing Out FAST Search For Linux, Unix

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  • by dreamchaser (49529)

    It's a clear sign that MS still has a (probably growing) fear of *nix, especially Linux.

    It's also an opportunity for some enterprising company or group to fill the void. All it will do is cost MS some sales. I doubt many organizations will migrate to Windows Server just for FAST.

    • by Bert64 (520050) <bert@@@slashdot...firenzee...com> on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @12:13PM (#31073100) Homepage

      You'd be surprised... This is how MS got in to start with.
      Years ago, windows machines were only used for lowend desktops (hence why its called windows - named after its gui) but they gradually got pushed out to servers because users built up a familiarity with it.

    • by SgtChaireBourne (457691) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @12:15PM (#31073146) Homepage
      FAST died on the vine a long time ago. It was a dot-com that just missed the tail of the dot-com mania. So they sold their hype to Microsoft and then disappeared off the face of the planet until this week. Track down the marketeers that stired up the FAST mud again.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @12:47PM (#31073688)
        I can't speak for the commercial side of FAST ESP, but I've worked with it in the public sector where it's used in some big projects for the NHS here in the UK (but running on Windows platforms as the government is in bed with MS and the NHS is so intertwined with the company now there's little other choice). I didn't develop for it directly, just some interface stuff, but the general consensus was that it's needlessly overcomplicated in order to sell consultancy services, and needlessly wasteful of resources in order to sell hardware.
        • I didn't develop for it directly, just some interface stuff, but the general consensus was that it's needlessly overcomplicated in order to sell consultancy services, and needlessly wasteful of resources in order to sell hardware.

          <facetious>Well I'm surprised they don't go for an open source enterprise solution from the likes of IBM or Oracle...</facetious>

          While I fully support FOSS and use it exclusively for my personal needs, I sometimes wonder if MS is really all that different from the other

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        You have no idea what you are talking about. Gardner has consistently rated FAST as either the #1 or #2 search engine technology. And under the hood, FAST was very open-source friendly -- most of the building blocks to make it came from open source projects. It was a VERY Linux friendly product. But when they sold out to Microsoft the writing was on the wall.

      • by IMightB (533307)

        My company was seriously considering FAST it was by far the best performing solution at the time. Then MS bought them, and since we run on a Linux (RHEL5) platform, we ended up going with a Lucene/Solr solution. a bit slower, but we saw the writing on the wall for FAST when they were purchased.

    • by plague3106 (71849)

      But there will be some that migrate, so it would appear to be a net plus for them.

    • Well, I'd certainly not migrate to Windows for FAST. I'd guess it would make my machine SLOWer.

  • cool (Score:4, Interesting)

    by JustNiz (692889) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @12:07PM (#31073004)

    The more they tighten their grip, the more the world will slip through their fingers.

  • Uh, yeah... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dwiget001 (1073738) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @12:08PM (#31073008)

    "...As a part of that planning process, we have decided that in order to deliver more innovation per release in the future, the 2010 products will be the last to include a search core that runs on Linux and UNIX...."

    Translation:

    "We are canning Linux and UNIX support to solidify Microsoft lock-in."

    • by hey (83763)

      Yeah, no kidding.
      Of course it would be impossible to do innovation on the *nix platforms too.

    • Re:Uh, yeah... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ircmaxell (1117387) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @12:26PM (#31073306) Homepage
      Well, yeah, but then they say this:

      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.

      I'm REALLY confused now. So they are dropping *NIX support, to futher their goal of interoperability? WTF? Can someone explain how these 2 are NOT related?

      Either that, or the subtext of "reaffirming (their) commitment" by dropping non-win os support sheds some insight on their "commitment" in the first place...

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        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.

        That's certainly considerate of them, isn't it? /sarc

      • What do you mean it's not interoperable? It works with ALL versions of Windows!

        Kind of like how they have both kinds of music at Bob's Country Bunker... Country and Western! [youtube.com]

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        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.

        I'm REALLY confused now. So they are dropping *NIX support, to futher their goal of interoperability? WTF? Can someone explain how these 2 are NOT related?

        Easy, they said they drop UNIX (and Linux) support, and will encourage people to migrate to Windows. In the

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Froboz23 (690392)
        To better understand Microsoft's commitment to supporting non-Windows products, a more exhaustive analysis of the word "commit" is required. Here's what Merriam-Webster has to say about the definition of commit:

        transitive verb 1 a : to put into charge or trust : entrust b : to place in a prison or mental institution c : to consign or record for preservation <commit it to memory> d : to put into a place for disposal or safekeeping e : to refer (as a legislative bill) to a committee for consideratio
    • by Rob Y. (110975) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @01:52PM (#31074732)

      This is exactly why nobody should ever get sucked into Microsoft 'interoperability' ploys. They are not about interoperability. They are always about extending the MS monopoly into areas that they could not reach without paying lip service to interoperability.

  • by Robert Zenz (1680268) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @12:12PM (#31073076) Homepage
    "...and taking concrete steps to help customers plan for the future."
    Reads:
    "We'll try to force everyone to use Windows in the future."

    Well...who expected something different anyway?
  • Linux is getting better and better, with more features added, and I'm not a pawn in corporate revenue/greed/forced upgrade strategy.

    Thanks Linux.
    F.U. Microsoft.
  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @12:13PM (#31073098)

    All hail the IT monoculture! Praise and glory to the brand!

    • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @02:02PM (#31074890)

      You know what's funny? How German and English words look and sound the same but have entirely different meanings. "Gift" means poison in German. "Mist" is dung. And "brand" is burning (the fire kind as well as the technical grinding wear kind). It could also mean mildew. And necrosis.

      I find it funny how often English words unintentionally have a far truer meaning when used as their German homonyms.

  • Oh no!! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @12:14PM (#31073114)

    Oh no!! How will the Linux and Unix communities cope?!?
    Who gives a shit?!?!

    • by cenc (1310167)

      I went looking for someone that had already stated the obvious.

      I second your, 'who gives a shit' and will raise you a 'shove it up the moderators' ....'.

      How in God's name did this even make it on to /.?

      Really people, you are telling me there is not one piece of more worthy, important, or at least interesting piece of IT or other news today? That the cancellation of a feature in some obscure failed piece of MS technology (even in MS land) is the most news worthy thing out there?

      Really, until this thread, I

  • by cridanb (687817) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @12:15PM (#31073138)
    Lucene has the same abilities as FAST and is a lot more efficient , its used by most of the ediscovery vendors and its free in it base format yes you will have to do some work on the interface and other support areas but its the solution to MS ditching Linux support for search
    • by ultranova (717540) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @12:37PM (#31073530)

      Lucene has the same abilities as FAST and is a lot more efficient

      That's clearly nonsense. Which of these programs is named after the very concept of high velocity?

      BTW: What does FAST do, anyway?

      • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @12:48PM (#31073718) Homepage Journal

        Heh. I'm wondering why anyone is concerned about it myself.

        Welcome FAST Customers

        On April, 25, 2008, Microsoft completed its acquisition of FAST Search & Transfer, opening a new chapter in enterprise search. By combining the innovation and agility of FAST with the discipline and resources of Microsoft, our customers get the best of both worlds: market-leading products from a trusted technology partner.

        http://www.microsoft.com/enterprisesearch/en/us/fast-customer.aspx [microsoft.com]

        So - they acquired something less than two years ago, now they decide they don't like it, can't support it, and many of us never knew about it to start with. To my knowledge, I've never made use of it. Unless it was used on the net by some god-awful behind-the-scenes server.

        For the most part, Google has satisfied all my search requirements for years now. Do they use FAST? Didn't think so, LOL

        • by FrozenFOXX (1048276) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @01:19PM (#31074262)
          We use FAST at our organization. Verity (or rather the company that owned Verity search) was trying to pull a fast one on us with licensing so we had to drop them for our document indexing and we received FAST as a donation from MS as they, and many other companies, donate quite a few things to us.

          We went with FAST as opposed to a Google Search Appliance because at the time the Google box couldn't do one thing we needed desperately without some serious hacking and ill-advisement from Google (I'll give it to Google, they were straight up with us that it was a bad idea at the time with their software. Kudos to them for honesty, makes me want to buy their stuff in the future). We have documents, several thousand, that come in nightly by HTML that need to be indexed complete with search term highlighting by 7am the next morning. The system has approximately three hours to do this job. If it cannot, an essential resource in our business (which shall remain nameless but suffice it to say "lives are at stake") suffers. Google's indexing at the time was somewhat lazy in that it would index things as fast as it could but could not guarantee that 21 hours of intake would be ready to search perfectly 3 hours later. FAST could. Simple as that.

          It deeply saddens me that they're dropping the Linux platform as that's how ours was built and even the engineers that came out to build it loved working on it (RHEL for those interested). It's not unexpected, and we'll find another indexer in a few years just like we always have to due to bullcrap like this but I was hoping that once, just freakin once, MS could actually use someone else's work to their advantage WITHOUT slapping their customers. Seriously, is Not Invented Here such a big freakin deal?

          But hey, whatever, we all knew it would happen anyway. For what it's worth FAST on Linux is fucking awesome from our experience (and we've got nearly a million non-trivial documents and workload it has to contend with).
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by JAlexoi (1085785)
            There is this little thing, called Apache Solr.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Talsan (515546)

            "FAST on Linux is fucking awesome" I'll have to share that with the rest of the support team.

            Speaking purely as an individual, I wish Microsoft wouldn't have gone this way, although obviously it doesn't surprise me. On the bright side - for your organization at least - you've got another 8 years where we'll be supporting ESP 5.3, so you have a few years before you have to worry about finding another solution, or deciding that maybe running a few Windows servers wouldn't be too bad. Just saying. :)

          • Nowadays there are gread free indexers. I don't know what fit your exact needs (you'll have to research), but you can use them assured that no vendor will slap you again.
      • by delinear (991444)
        Not sure if that's a serious question, but it's a search engine that can index across multiple data formats (so where I worked we used it to index a bunch of associated sites' data that had no single delivery format, so sometimes we'd be indexing a PDF or Word document, other times we'd have to follow a link to some content in an iframe, etc. as well as plugging into a disparate bunch of local databases which were slowly being migrated/converged). It also has some UI features implemented out of the box, but
      • BTW: What does FAST do, anyway?

        Well, see, while the Valkyries were developed to work in both atmospheric and space flight, the intakes (which act as hydrogen scoops for the fusion reactors in the engines) aren't able to get sufficient fuel out in space, so the fighter's operational range is quite limited. The FAST packs address this problem by providing a large reserve of fuel for the fighter, as well as a bit of extra armor and missiles to increase the fighter's offensive power... But with the added bulk of the FAST packs the Valkyrie

      • by cridanb (687817)
        fast is the worse named product ever as it is quite slow on index and moderately speedy on search but by modern standards not fast
      • by fritsd (924429)
        I once programmed a bit for a company that still had a database system called SPEED-II, which ran on a Wang minicomputer. You *REALLY* don't want to know....
    • by Lord Grey (463613) *

      Lucene has the same abilities as FAST and is a lot more efficient , its used by most of the ediscovery vendors and its free in it base format yes you will have to do some work on the interface and other support areas but its the solution to MS ditching Linux support for search

      You clearly know less, or assume more, than you think you do.

      Lucene is a great search engine. But neither it nor its commercial add-ons can touch what FAST can do in its entirety. When you have hundreds of millions of document to search, tens of millions of those documents to update throughout a single day, a requirement to deliver any single updated document within minutes of the update to an end user, and keep it all running 7x24, you don't want to use Lucene.

      Sure, you could "do some work on the in

    • I have seen also mentions of the Xapian [xapian.org] which is written in C++.

  • by ratboy666 (104074) <fred_weigel&hotmail,com> on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @12:18PM (#31073184) Homepage Journal

    Both kinds.

    Country AND Western.

  • It amuses me how he says:

    we've designed the next wave of FAST products (scheduled for release in the first half of calendar year 2010) to include a cross-platform search core

    but immediately after that he says:

    in order to deliver more innovation per release in the future, the 2010 products will be the last to include a search core that runs on Linux and UNIX

    It sounds to me like one of two things happened. Either they decided to stop designing their product, or management decided that they didn't like *nix. And to think, you'd be hard pressed to find a mainstream open source app not ported to three or more platforms. Proprietary software is silly. :(

    • by Ltap (1572175)
      Yeah. There are some great examples of this. Not the usual programs that are ported to the major 3 (Mac, Linux, Windows) but ones that have support for everything, like fbreader, which works on Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and some Nokia phones.
  • Microsoft makes a search product? Really?

    • Nonono, you got that wrong. They're searching for a product. One that could sell without cramming it down everyone's throat by the market share of Windows.

      Basically MS sinks or swims with the continued success of Windows. None of their other products would have a sensible market share if it wasn't for Windows.

  • Seems to me that if they are going to drop the FAST searching they should continue to support the SLOW search that we all know and love.
  • It is a tiny market. (Score:5, Informative)

    by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @12:23PM (#31073252) Journal
    The total *revenue* last year in enterprise search is just 1.1 billion dollars, according to Gartner, according to the article. It is going to touch 2 billion may be in 2013, again according the article. Considering that Microsoft gets 6.5 billion dollars *profit* per quarter, this is chump change. Further, Google is synonymous with search. It sells the Google Server in a Box, that does mail, calender, shared docs all behind the firewall of the client, unreachable by either the pings from the internet, or by subpoena. If this market segment grows, it is going to be growing the way Google wants it.
    • by hey (83763)

      I could see that measly 2 billion growing as it becomes more integrated into other stuff in the enterprise.

      • There was a time Microsoft could just wonder aloud about entering a market segment and all venture capital in that area would just evaporate, faster than water spilled on a Dubai sidewalk. It could withdraw support for this or that, and there would be virtual stampede to stop using the end-of-lifed product. Those were the old days when Microsoft got lots of undeserved benefit.

        Now the market pendulum has swung around. Venture capital would flow to every niche vacated by Microsoft. Microsoft would be blamed

    • it's not chump change.
      I make a little over $10,000 quarterly.
      For $1700 I will dance a jig.
      Hell, for $1700 I might even try windows.

      • You are confusing revenue with profit. When the market is that small your costs are amortized over a smaller customer base and the margins are much smaller. Microsoft has high employee cost and benefits. If it takes in 1 billion it would just barely break even or book a profit of 20 or 30 million bucks. It would get better returns if it just parks a billion on long term bond index fund something like 5.5% to 6%.

        Would you dance a jig for 34$?

        • Why not? Doesn't cost me a dime to dance, it's no inconvenience, it's not disgusting (well, for me, can't talk about people subjected to it) so it's 34 bucks profit for nothing.

          • Wish there were more managers like you. I have seen managers walk away leaving a million bucks on the table because of some imagined affront to his/her dignity or it was not "worth" the trouble.
        • um, in a word?
          yes
          you got so much money that $34 is nothing to you?
          give it to me.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by liquiddark (719647)
      Nobody's buying Google products in the enterprise search sector. Endeca, FAST, Lucene, yes. Google? Not likely, unless you count Google Desktop Search. Google doesn't even pitch enterprise search right now. They're focused on a much less fickle set of markets. If you've never experienced a pitch by an enterprise search vendor, you don't know what you're talking about. These guys do things that appear to literally be magical in nature, organizing millions of highly custom data points into a coherent d
      • These guys do things that appear to literally be magical in nature, organizing millions of highly custom data points into a coherent data set and slapping a slick UI over top in a matter of weeks.

        When the salesmen of the vendors do things that appear to be magical, I hold on to my wallet tight if it is my decision. Or set up a paper trail to protect my tail if it is not.

        • I don't think you know what you're talking about. Salesmen? For a million dollar software purchase? You're talking about teams of people, some of them techies, some support, some design, and a small number (1-2) of sales/account managers. That's just for the pitch. Their results are magical, but it's because they're competent and have good products, not because they're shysters (I'm sure some exist, but not at the top of the market, and that's where FAST lives).
    • You don't deal with corporations a lot, do you? It's 1.1 billions they do not have yet.

      So they want them. At least if it costs less than 1.1 billions to get them.

  • That was fast..

  • A moose once bit his sister.
  • by Statecraftsman (718862) * on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @12:35PM (#31073494) Homepage
    Hi I'm Steve. I work for Microsoft and I'm going to ask you to keep buying Microsoft products. There's not much new here, we've decided make this software run only on Microsoft products so that should help you decide. If you don't use FAST, this probably won't affect you but we're looking for more ways to get you to use only Microsoft. Thanks!
  • They just dropped support for the original XBox live too. Are they looking for ways to tick off customers or what?

    • by srpape (1735974)

      I also like how they put a spin on it in each case, and tell you its the best thing for you.

  • In a surprise move, Microsoft announced today that more innovation actually means less compatibility. More on this at 11. In other news, the South Pole will now be referred to as the North Pole and East will become West. No word from Santa yet on how this will affect next year's operations.
    • No word from Santa yet on how this will affect next year's operations.

      As the South Pole is on a continent, as opposed to temporary ice, it should be easier. Also, the South Pole has daylight in December.

  • Whoah... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by c (8461) <beauregardcp@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @01:13PM (#31074154)

    amazing how nobody saw that one coming...

    Seriously, folks, is this really news? I'd imagine that when Microsoft does a takeover these days, one of the criteria they're using is "are we going to have a repeat of the Hotmail clusterfuck?" They were planning on doing this before they bought the company, and the only question was when and what excuse they'd be using...

    c.

  • Microsoft not wanting to support a competitor to its core product, particularly a competitor that is kicking their ass in the server market...how surprising.

  • I've been runing FAST ESP 5 clusters on RHEL for since 2008, used for web and site search. I found FAST ESP 5.2 especially to be terribly buggy on large deployments, and some issues their support never did resolve.

    Moving to a unit that just needed to search a db, we ran ESP 5.3 for a year, but have now switched completely to Apache Solr. For searching records from a database, Solr does everything we need without gouging the company for $$$$$$ in annual support fees.

    In just a few weeks we were able to set

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