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The Technology Behind SPH Search

FAST Search & Transfer logoThe new search engine backed by Singapore media giant Singapore Press Holding Ltd, SPH Search will be powered by techonology developed by Fast Search & Transfer ASA.

According to Wikipedia, “FAST focuses on enterprise real-time data search technologies. It originally owned the web search-engine AlltheWeb as which was later sold to Overture in 2003, now part of Yahoo!.”

So are we talking about a first generation search engine technology that got “eaten up” by Yahoo in 2003?

Now that FAST had changed and focused on enterprise real-time data search technologies, it was still not doing too well lately(Aug 2007) – at least not in the eyes of those 148 people who got retrenched by the company.

Mark Logic’s CEO, Dave Kellogg reported some interesting insight into FAST layoff and financial figures in his blog titled:

Fast Search: The Blood-Letting Begins

  • Layoff of 148 employees
  • Reduction in operating costs of approximately $12M/quarter
  • Up to a $55M one-time restructuring charge
  • Of which $25M will be cash (e.g., severance)
  • And remaining up to $30M will be non-cash

Enterprise Search Technology

According to my research, the FAST enterprise search technology has been implemented successfully with many big corporations, especially media companies in the USA and Europe.

And recently, it has expanded to Asia, partnering with media company in Japan to provide mobile search and advertising.

SPH is just one of FAST many enterprise search customers since she joint venture with Schibsted International Classifieds & Search AS to form SPH Search. You see, Schibsted is a big customer of FAST since 2005. So it is quite apparent that commercial relationship here is rather complicated and we shall leave that discussion to another article.

Here’s an interview with John Lervik, CEO of Fast Search & Transfer:

Fast Search & Transfer CEO John Lervik
Click Here

Is FAST Enterprise Search Good Enough for Singapore Inc?

I got this impression that since we are such a small country, we can just get a search engine software off the shelve and indexed everything about Singapore and serve the information to “people anywhere in the world who want content about Singapore”.

However, if SPH Search plans to target “people anywhere in the world” then it is no longer an enterprise model.

Does SPH Search knows what information people anywhere in the world are looking for about Singapore?

SPH Search for searching SPH web pages

Or is it just to provide a search engine to filter all of SPH owned web pages. And then, when people search for information that can be found in SPH web pages, you will be served with sponsored ads from SPH and not from Google.

If SPH wants to make profit then it is not search engine technology that SPH needs, it needs online advertising technology.

Hopefully, we can get a good search engine with relevant information about Singapore and SPH will not lose too much money.

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