Enterprise Search at Microsoft with Office SharePoint Server 2007

Published: July 19, 2007 on http://www.microsoft.com/technet/itshowcase/content/deployingsearchtwp.mspx

There are more than 120,000 employees, contractors, and vendors at Microsoft, and they create and store an incredible amount of digital information in the form of Microsoft® Office documents, pictures, videos, Web pages, and other formats. The information is stored on servers throughout the Microsoft network. In many cases, several people can use a document or file to complete assignments if only it is accessible or advertised for use.

fig 2For example, an employee on the Office User Assistance team might be developing user documentation for Microsoft Office Word. At the same time, another employee might be creating marketing collateral for a specific vertical industry marketing campaign that includes Office Word as a part of the solution. If the employee creating the campaign is unaware of the user documentation created by the other employee, the documentation is underutilized. Enterprise search can help an employee take advantage of other employees' knowledge and information. This is the business value of enterprise search. Considering the size of Microsoft and the diversity of jobs, including product development, marketing, operations, sales, and administration, the volume of information involved is overwhelming.

Files and information are stored on a variety of internal content sources, such as document libraries, intranet Web sites, within Exchange Server 2007 data stores, file shares, databases, and local hard disk drives. To make the situation even more challenging, employees continually add new types of content every day.

The problem is how to identify and crawl the information that Microsoft has today and to keep the index up to date with all the new content and content types in the future in a way that is useful to a variety of users. Naturally, maintaining security while ensuring that the index is current is essential to enterprise search.

The solution is the Enterprise Search feature provided in Microsoft Office SharePoint® Server 2007. The new enhancements of the Search feature incorporate fast searching and the Indexing Service. Fast searching builds off the Indexing Service of Office 2003 to create database catalogs of the Office files that are available on a computer's hard disk, in projects, and in SharePoint Web folders.

Microsoft built the Indexing Service feature from the Index Server technology of Microsoft Windows 2000 to create a better cataloging experience for fast searching and to offer the ability to search any Office file for information that the file contains.

Enterprise Search helps employees to collaborate more easily, reduce duplication of efforts, and perform job functions more efficiently with more depth than in the past. With Enterprise Search, employees can more easily find the people, information, tools, and software necessary to perform their day-to-day job functions. Employees can be more productive and improve the quality of their work without relying on others to assist them in completing their tasks.

By using flexible and innovative indexing rules, Office SharePoint Server 2007 can find relevant data so that Microsoft employees can locate the people and information that they are looking for with greater accuracy. Performance improvements in Office SharePoint Server 2007 help employees locate people and information faster than before.

This white paper covers:

• Teams at Microsoft that were involved in the development, deployment, and ongoing management of the solution.

• Background on Enterprise Search at Microsoft.

• Business values achieved in deploying the Enterprise Search solution.

• Architectural design of the solution.

• Products and technologies used in creating the solution.

• Administration of the shared search services for the solution.

• Administration of indexed sites and content for the solution.

• User experience when using the Enterprise Search solution.

• Migration of Enterprise Search from Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server 2003 to Office SharePoint Server 2007.

• The best practices that Microsoft used in developing and deploying the solution.

This document shares the experiences of Microsoft teams in deploying Enterprise Search at Microsoft. Because of the significant amount of knowledge that these teams gained, the experience provides relevant guidance to organizations that want to help improve employee productivity, improve the quality of work produced, reduce duplication of efforts, and take advantage of the financial investment in digital assets by deploying Enterprise Search.

This white paper assumes that readers are technical decision makers and are already familiar with SharePoint Portal Server 2003, Office SharePoint Server 2007, and Microsoft SQL Server™ 2005. Many of the principles and techniques described in this paper can be employed to manage deployment and operations risk within any organization, and the design considerations for enterprise search can likewise be applied to almost any enterprise-scale IT environment through Microsoft products. However, this paper is based on the experience and recommendations of Microsoft Information Technology (Microsoft IT) as an early adopter. It is not intended to serve as a procedural guide. Each enterprise environment has unique circumstances; therefore, each organization should adapt the plans and lessons learned described in this paper to meet its specific needs.


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