A fairly recent trend I’ve noticed in this space is an increasing interest in search connectors. A connector enables a search engine to crawl messaging and line of business systems. SharePoint Search and FAST, provide connectors for File Systems, Exchange Public Folders, Websites, and SharePoint out of the box, but Microsoft leaves it to partners to develop others. This makes sense. There are hundreds of business systems out there and Microsoft is careful about where they devote their resources. We’ve invested heavily in developing I.P. in this area. A list of the connectors that we offer can be found here: http://www.bainsight.com/sharepoint-fast-search-connectors/Pages/default.aspx
So why the sudden uptick in interest in connectors? In my view, it’s because the technology has finally reached maturity. Enterprise Search is about all Enterprise data, not just the data in a file system or SharePoint. For over a decade now, search vendors have been promising a “Unified View” of Enterprise Data; both structured data and unstructured content. It is only recently that we have been able to deliver on this promise. Why did it take so long?