RetrievalWare customers search for transition advice

Convera Corp. is selling its RetrievalWare search business to a Norwegian company, and Convera's federal government customers are bracing for the change. RetrievalWare is used widely enough in the government to have its own user group, and the head of that group said the new owner ? Fast Search and Transfer (FAST), based in Oslo ? so far seems to be doing things right.

FAST has promised to support RetrievalWare customers as long as they want to use the legacy product, or migrate them to the Fast platform, as the company blends the Convera technology into it, said Helen Mitchell, chairwoman of the RetrievalWare U.S. Government Users' Group.

"We've already started to make some inroads with FAST and Convera communicating," she said. Mitchell is the Food and Drug Administration's enterprise search project manager.

Convera, based in Needham, Mass., and FAST announced the planned sale in April, and expect it to close by the end of June. For now, customers can only wait to see what happens.

FAST has some U.S. government customers already, but saw the RetrievalWare buy as a way to rapidly expand its federal presence, and also to get into some state and local government markets, said Peter Bauert, senior vice president of corporate development at FAST.

"We think this is a great launching pad for us," he said. "We want to do the right thing for the customers Convera had. You have to take care of them."

Intelligence and defense agencies may feel more of a disruption than most civilian customers, as FAST is not a U.S.-based company. Bauert said the company is working on forming a partnership with an American firm to address that issue, but declined to comment further.

About the Author

Technology journalist Michael Hardy is a former FCW editor.

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