Microsoft announced a new free enterprise search product Search Server 2008 Express. It has the same core search functionality as the regular enterprise search products, and no restrictions on size or number of documents. The goal of the program is to reach the almost 6 million businesses in the United States that don't use an enterprise search solution.
Mary Jo Foley at ZDnet has an excellent review. Here is a quote from the story;
Search Server 2008 Express offers just about all of the same functionality as the full Microsoft Search Server and SharePoint Server products, Microsoft officials said. The Express SKU shares the same core search engine as Microsoft’s other two server-based enterprise-search offerings — Office SharePoint Server 2007 and Search Server (the rebranded standalone enterprise-search product formerly known by the ungainly name of “Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 for Search”). It uses the same centralized administration console and new federated-search functionality. And Search Server 2008 Express will offer the same connectors to third-party document-management, ERP and other business software as do SharePoint Server and Search Server. And even though it’s going to be a free product, Express Server 2008 won’t limit the number of documents that can be indexed.
Enterprise search has been around a long time...even before consumer web search. But the technology has lagged because most enterprise search vendors have focused on a very narrow set of databases, applications, or document stores. They might be very good at searching a FileNet document repository but unable to do anything with a SharePoint repository.
Search Everything - Microsoft Enterprise Search has tackled this problem and now allows you to search just about everything from one search box. Microsoft uses the Open Search Standard to access lots of data sources. Here is a short list of some of the sources;
Microsoft Enterprise Search also has a long list of connectors to other data repositories that will include all documents in those applications. Here are just a few of them;
- EMC Documentum
Freemium in the enterprise? - Freemium is a common business model in the consumer space, but in the enterprise? Yes, Search Server 2008 Express is a free product with some up-sell opportunities. This is an amazingly full function product with no size limitations. The additional features for sale is truly "value add" functionality. Here is how Mary Jo Foley explains it;
The Express SKU won’t provide the high-availability and load-balancing capabilities of the other two Microsoft enterprise-search products, however, officials said. It also won’t deliver the people and expertise search and Business Data Catalog connectivity that SharePoint Server does. The Express SKU is designed to be simple enough to able to be set up to start searching and indexing in 30 minutes, the Softies said.
This is a bold move by Microsoft that will make enterprise search available to any business of any size...for free. The theory is that getting those 6 million U.S. businesses using enterprise search will result in more sales for the traditional Microsoft search server products.