Microsoft FAST Search is the search engine for Microsoft's SharePoint collaboration platform. Its purpose is helping SharePoint users locate and retrieve stored enterprise content. Unlike public facing Web search engines, FAST typically operates in private company networks, such as intranet and document libraries.
Acquired by Microsoft for $1.2 billion in 2008, the FAST engine is generally considered an upgrade from the search function of SharePoint 2010 and earlier SharePoint versions. FAST is a standard feature of SharePoint 2013 and the SharePoint Online application of Office 365.
Enterprise content management is a common application for SharePoint, and FAST Search provides a number of tools for locating content.
Metadata is a key cog in the FAST search engine. Administrators need to develop pertinent metadata and ensure that users are labeling content correctly to get full benefit of the search function.
With its incorporation into SharePoint 2013, FAST has honed search efficiency. With the feature continuous crawl, for example, content can now be indexed every few minutes. Query conditions and a rules engine also enable web pages to dynamically feature content that is most relevant to users. And query actions enable SharePoint administrators to control how search results are displayed. The engine supports searches built on phrases, wildcards, compound queries and proximity searches. The interface allows users to refine and preview search results.
A version of FAST was released for SharePoint 2010, as a separate product known as FAST Search for SharePoint 2010 (FS4SP).
FAST was developed by the Fast Search & Transfer company, of Oslo, which marketed the technology as FAST Enterprise Search Platform (ESP). FAST ESP is no longer developed or sold to new customers, but there are programs for migrating it to FS4SP.