Many enterprises rely on Microsoft’s SharePoint to ease collaboration throughout the organization. But once the system reaches a particular size, it can become cumbersome to manage and search. While SharePoint does come with integrated search features, many found the option lackluster in releases prior to SharePoint 2013. Microsoft’s answer to the frustration was the addition of the FAST engine.
FAST was acquired by the computing giant in 2008, and became a standard feature beginning with SharePoint 2013. And, since so many organizations rely on SharePoint for enterprise content management, the addition of FAST tools can help streamline the process for locating critical content. It also encourages a higher level of organization among tech professionals and employees using SharePoint which can help managing the entire system more efficient.
Metadata, Organization and FAST
A large component of the successful use of FAST is strong metadata. It provides a labeling system upon which IT workers and end-users can rely for keeping content organized. Additionally, content can be indexed at intervals as short as every few minutes. This keeps information current for those seeking particular files, documents or other forms of information.
It also provides the ability to search for files that aren’t based on text. For example, metadata added to an audio file helps keep the information highly accessible even though the entirety of the content is not searchable. The same applies to images, such as JPEGs, that cannot be searched for based on file content alone.
Flexible Search Options
The FAST engine also allows for greater flexibility in how searches can be completed. For example, users can include wildcards to help locate data when only a piece of information is known. Additionally, compound queries and proximity searches are also supported. By providing numerous methods for location information, end users will require less support to get to the files they require.
FAST also allows for controls over how information is displayed to users. Query conditions and a sophisticated rules engine allow users to see information that is most relevant to them. Additionally, SharePoint administrators can exert additional control over the method for displaying results as well as restricting access to information as needed.
The Bottom Line
Ultimately, the benefit of FAST is the creation of a system that can be accessed by end-users more efficiently. This helps them increase their level of productivity by ensuring they can get the information they need to complete their work. It can also unburden an IT or help desk professional who may otherwise have to take time out of their day to help employees locate files. And, since the use of SharePoint is common among many enterprises, it is clear that FAST can help make the management of these systems simpler for everyone involved.
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