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Report: Enterprise Search Will Top $1 Billion by 2010

The enterprise search market has been "revitalized," according to a Gartner report released Tuesday.

Gartner said new features and the ability to handle a broader range of structured data, have made enterprise search more appealing to large companies. The enterprise search market gained a particularly high profile last month when Microsoft announced its plans to acquire Norway's Fast Search and Transfer (FAST) for $1.2 billion.

Total software revenue worldwide from enterprise search will reach $989.7 million this year, up 15 percent from 2007, according to Gartner. By 2010 Gartner forecasts the market will grow to $1.2 billion. While the rate of growth will slow to low double digits over the next few years, Gartner research director Tom Eid notes enterprise search is a huge market.

"We're forecasting consolidation with more mergers and acquisitions like Microsoft and FAST," Eid told InternetNews.com. "In that scenario it's not uncommon for the acquiring vendor to have a collective slowdown to get its roadmap together and figure out what features and products it's going to bring forward."

Gartner's rough estimate of enterprise search leaders through 2006 places Autonomy first with a 21 percent share, followed by FAST/Microsoft and Google at 18 and 15 percent, respectively. Endeca and IBM round out the top five at 6 and 4 percent.

After those five, Eid notes, there are 50 or more other vendors in a very fragmented market. "It's very different from ERP and other enterprise segments where the biggest vendors have a lot of control," said Eid. "In Enterprise search there is a lot of competition at the top and at the other end, a lot of specialized players in sectors like pharmaceuticals and retail."

There is also very distinct technology at work among competitors. "Google has its appliance model which offers 'good enough' functionality at a price that can't be beat in the enterprise," said Eid. "It's a very different approach than Autonomy or FAST which offer very high-end technology platforms."

Growth areas prompting wider adoption of enterprise search include e-discovery requirements and the ability to obtain better information from structured data repositories. Eid says most large companies deploy some level of enterprise search technology already, but there is plenty of opportunity for growth.

"It's not deployed the way email is enterprise-wide," he said. "Search and information access is not a one-size-fits-all market. He notes, for example, different departments within an organization might have very distinct requirements.