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Siebel, Fast Search team to offer enterprise search

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Enterprise software company Siebel Systems and Fast Search and Transfer, an enterprise search company, said Tuesday they have agreed to form a partnership to integrate the two technologies.

Terms of the multiyear agreement call for FAST InStream, its OEM (original equipment manufacturer) enterprise search solution, to be integrated with Siebel’s core business software platform as part of a licensing deal.

That means Siebel’s business applications and hosted solutions—which include enterprise portals and intranets, enterprise content management, enterprise resource planning, business intelligence, and storage and archiving systems—will now be fully searchable. The agreement is based on a software license, maintenance fees and professional services provided by FAST.

Siebel—which held its user conference in Barcelona, Spain, this week with newly installed CEO George Shaheen—said the integration of FAST’s search product brings its 4000-plus customers significantly enhanced functionality.

"FAST’s innovation, vision and laser focus on the future of enterprise search is in line with the direction that Siebel wants to take its search and information utilization strategy," said Skip Bacon, VP-technology at Siebel, in a statement.

The move might also pave the way for other CRM companies to implement enterprise search. FAST benefits significantly from its association with the CRM vendor. "The validation we get [because of our association with Siebel] gives us a market presence," said Ali Riaz, chief operating officer of FAST. He said it also gives FAST visibility with Siebel global integration partners such as Accenture, IBM Corp. and Deloitte & Touche.

The partnership could signal a turning point for enterprise search, Riaz said. "Now everyone is interested in search," he said. "Companies like Computer Associates, Siebel and Microsoft are all taking search very seriously, and that’s good for us."

"Enterprise customers," Riaz added, "are saying, ‘I can find anything I want on the Web, but I can’t find anything on my CRM system.’ "

While major search engines such as Google also offer enterprise search solutions, FAST is strictly dedicated to enterprise customers. "What Google is doing for Web search, we are doing for enterprise search," Riaz said.

That may explain why Siebel tapped FAST as a partner, despite the fact that Google Chairman-CEO Eric E. Schmidt sits on Siebel’s board.

"Google and Yahoo! are taking their product forward and offering more and more specialized products to their [consumer] customers," Riaz said. "We’re going in the other direction. We’re going after the enterprise customer."

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