Erick Schonfeld at TechCrunch has the lowdown on the dirty financial laundry being aired from Fast Search and Transfer which Microsoft acquired in January and whose technology is scheduled to appear in SharePoint Server and SQL Server:
Even back in January when Microsoft agreed to pay $1.2 billion for enterprise search company Fast Search & Transfer, it was mired in an accounting scandal and trading in its stock had been suspended. Its aggressive accounting for phantom deals that never materialized earned it the moniker the “Enron of Norway.” But more sordid details keep coming out from some tenacious reporting by the Norwegian press.
The latest account comes in the June 28 issue of the Norwegian magazine Dagens Næringsliv. In an article (in Norwegian) by Trond Sundnes, Dagens Næringsliv, Gøran Skaalmo, the magazine details how the Norwegian company booked free software trials as revenues, and how its executives set up shell corporations for allegedly self-dealing purposes.
According to the article, Fast had booked $50 million in fake revenue, $20 million in fictional contracts, and former top executives closely linked to CEO Markus Lervik siphoned off $6 million to shell companies they controlled. Lervik continues to lead the business and is currently the vice president for enterprise search at Microsoft.
Click through for all the details, but it looks like this one is going to need a whole lot of damage control. It also raises questions, perhaps unjustly, about the Fast Search & Transfer technologies themselves.
Fast Search & Transfer sounds like a generic attribute but in fact it is the name of Norwegian-based provider of enterprise search solutions and Microsoft wants it:
Today Microsoft unveiled their enterprise search lineup for 2008:
Microsoft today announced Microsoft Search Server 2008 Express — a downloadable Enterprise Search product available at no charge that combines simplicity and ease of use with a powerful set of search features. Microsoft Search Server 2008 Express joins Microsoft’s Enterprise Search lineup, which is built on the Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 platform.
A release candidate is available today for customers to download and evaluate the product at http://www.microsoft.com/enterprisesearch.
Additionally, we announced Microsoft Search Server 2008, a sister offering available through our volume licensing program that contains advanced deployment and scalability options.
Apparently both products are based on technology pulled out of SharePoint Server for Search 2007 which will be superceded when the two flavors of Search Server 2008 ship in the first half of 2008.
Last week Microsoft UK revealed a rather flashy looking search appliance based on Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 for Search (MOSS07 for Search). Microsoft’s Mike Pallot elaborates:
The main announcement was that we in the UK have launched the first ever Microsoft based Search Appliance. SCAN Technologies have partnered with us to use their expertise and our technology to build on MOSS 07 and deliver a very simple to install, configure and deploy MOSS 07 based Search Appliance.
It’s not quite ready for prime time (Pallot asks those interested to contact him directly), but it is apparently coming this year:
Microsoft will launch its first search appliance this year, based on a relationship with UK-based Scan Computers. Scan’s Orange Spider Search is designed to let firms add in SharePoint Server capabilities in a four-step process.
Mike Pallot, Microsoft channel development manager for search, said, “We’re in the early stages but it’s a pre-built server that makes it easy to deploy SharePoint without IT assistance. It’s not a ploy to go head-to-head with the Google Search Appliance but it lets you deploy a familiar environment and link people search to CRM capabilities.”
The above makes it seem both more and less than one would expect. It’ll be interesting to see the full details on this puppy.