June 17th, 2003


Product Report: AltaVista Enterprise Search

This is an off-site copy of the corresponding Product report page on the SearchTools.com website, and it is designed to allow you to comment on the product and/or the reporting. For more information about the topic of search and tools visit SearchTools.com where you can browse many articles, in-depth analysis and overviews of external resources.

AltaVista Enterprise Search

  AltaVista Enterprise Search
  AltaVista Desktop Search

June 17, 2003 FAST buys AltaVista Enterprise Search Business

FAST (Fast Search and Transfer) has purchased the AltaVista Enterprise Search business from Overture, which will retain the Web portal search engine. This move is eerily reminiscent of the breakup of Inktomi, with the Web portal search engine purchased by Yahoo! and the enterprise search engine (Ultraseek) by Verity, and the recent sale of the FAST web portal AllTheWeb to Overture. However in this case, the AltaVista Enterprise Search Engine will be supported but not developed further, and customers will be encouraged to move to the Fast Enterprise Search platform.

February 18, 2003: Overture Buys AltaVista Corporation

AltaVista, a pioneering web search engine, is being acquired by Overture, which provides pay-for-performance search services on public web sites for $140 million in cash and stock. While there is no public statement on future directions for the AltaVista Enterprise Search products, the company has indicated that it will continue to support current customers.

Platforms: Windows NT, Windows 2000, Tru64 UNIX, HP/UX, Solaris, Linux, and AIX (SDK only)
  Enterprise: based either on the number of documents indexed or the number of users, ranging from $30,000 to more than $500,000.
  Desktop: $25-$30 per user


  • Uses the same code as the AltaVista webwide search service, so it's very standard
  • SDK (Search Developer Kit) code library provides more flexibility and customization options.
  • Powerful indexing robot can spider thousands of pages per hour
  • Language recognition and searching for over 30 languages, including Asian double-byte characters.
  • Handles over 200 file formats, including XML, PDF, PostScript, Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and WordPerfect, very important for Intranet search engines.

Updates and New Releases

  • AltaVista Enterprise Search 2.0
    • open architecture for integration with other applications
    • document-level security checked before displaying search results
    • automatic classification of documents to taxonomy categories
  • AltaVista Desktop Search (released February 2002)
    • Personal workstation search engine.
    • Indexes over 200 file formats.
    • Can search email messages by sender, recipient, folder, date range or content.
    • User control over files to search, format of results, index schedule
    • Cost $25-$30 per employee.
    • Windows only.
  • AltaVista Enterprise Search (Fall, 2001)
    • Designed for EIPs (Enterprise Information Portals) and Intranets.
    • Indexing of Microsoft Exchange servers.
    • Integration with categorization tools.
    • Security and access-level control.
    • Tools for connecting to organizational policies and practices.
    • J2EE support for Enterprise Java Beans and Java Servlets.
    • Now runs on HP-UX version 11 operating system (64-bit).
  • November 2000 Update: focus on the SDK and e-business
    • Better integration with e-commerce applications with additional examples and documentation
    • Additional APIs for Java, COM (Visual Basic) and Perl
    • Extended linguistic tools for Japanese, Chinese and Korean
    • Custom ranking and sorting of search results (SDK required)
    • Quality and capacity planning, including performance and log analysis, cache tuning
    • Working with custom linguistics tools for natural-language queries
  • Version 3, March 2000
    • Java administration interface for many important options
    • JDBC interface to databases such as Oracle
    • Flexible control over indexing, including separate schedules for subsections
    • Improved web gathering robot now maps and analyzes links relationships for most efficient spidering
    • Linguistic processing of queries

      Note: in early February, 2000, AltaVista announced an affiliate network allowing selected sites to include AltaVista search boxes, and the AltaVista Business Solutions group to develop and market the AltaVista Search engine. While the search box HTML code will be "open source", the AltaVista Search engine code will not: some reporters misunderstood this and wrote incorrect stories indicating that the search engine code would be distributed or that the engine itself would be given away.

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