By Kevin Komiega
—Microsoft announced this week that it has made a $1.2 billion acquisition offer for enterprise search vendor FAST Search & Transfer in an effort to complement its enterprise infrastructure offerings by incorporating FAST's products into its portfolio.
FAST claims to have more than 3,500 enterprise customers—and a list of storage partners—using its flagship product, FAST InStream for Data Classification. InStream combines scalable data and content classification tools with contextual enterprise search technology. The product uses a variety of techniques for data classification and can tag data in several ways, including by application, to enable the movement of data to specific tiers of storage based on importance.
FAST's storage partners include vendors such as CommVault, EMC, MessageOne, Mimosa Systems, RenewData, and Symantec.
"Enterprise search is becoming an indispensable tool to businesses of all sizes, helping people find, use, and share critical business information quickly," says Jeff Raikes, president of the Microsoft Business Division. "Until now, organizations have been forced to choose between powerful, high-end search technologies or more mainstream, infrastructure solutions. The combination of Microsoft and FAST gives customers a new choice: a single vendor with solutions that span the full range of customer needs."
Specifically, Microsoft and FAST point to synergies between FAST's technology and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server, which combines search with collaboration, business intelligence, portal, and content management capabilities.
"By joining Microsoft, we can benefit from the momentum behind the SharePoint business productivity platform to empower a broader set of users through Microsoft's sales and marketing network," says John Lervik, CEO of FAST.
FAST's board of directors has unanimously recommended that its shareholders accept Microsoft's acquisition offer. In addition, shareholders representing an aggregate 37% of the outstanding shares, including FAST's two largest institutional shareholders, Orkla ASA and Hermes Focus Asset Management Europe, have irrevocably undertaken to accept the offer. The transaction is expected to be completed in the second quarter of calendar year 2008.