Web Analyzer Failing for FAST Search

The FAST Search implementation for SharePoint 2010 is a convoluted process and mistakes in the deployment.xml can cause performance and functionality headaches further down the line during your testing and implementation process. As part of the initial installation phase of FAST search you are required to pre-configure the deployment.xml file. The deployment.xml file is used to determine what components are to be utilized and for which server in your FAST Search topology. As part of all FAST Search topologies, you will have an admin server which will host the web analyzer component. This component is used to analyse search clickthrough logs and hyperlink structures which both contribute to better ranked search results and relevancy.

An issue that we discovered in testing was that the web analyzer was not functioning correctly as we had numerous error messages in the webanalyzer.log file stating that the web analyzer could not connect to the config server. Typical error messages we discovered are detailed below:

“Module (Web Analyzer) at “fast1.domain:13300″ is not responding”

“Couldn’t connect to the Config Server”    

So what caused this error? The error relates to the deployment.xml, the file is case sensitive and if you name your admin server with a case mismatch (e.g “Server1.domain.com”) then this will cause the web analyzer to fail as it will not be able to identify the config server due to the upper case ‘S’ even if you use the FQDN. So in order to avoid this issue then I recommend using a lower case naming convention for all server names when configuring your deployment.xml.

If you encounter this issue in your existing environment then there is a process that can be followed to update your FAST Search configuration. The steps are detailed below:

1.Stop the services on all FAST Search Servers using “nctrl stop” in FAST powershell.

2. Edit the deployment.xml on the FAST Search Admin server and change the FQDN for the admin component to be all lower case.

3. On the admin server, edit ‘etc\waconfig.xml’ and ‘etc\node.xml’ and update the hostname to be all lowercase.

4. In FAST Powershell, run “Set-FASTSearchConfiguration” on the admin server and start the services by running “nctrl start”.

5. Now repeat steps 3 and 4 for all your other FAST servers in your topology.

Your FAST Search environment will now have a working web analyzer. For further reading on the deployment.xml then please refer to the msdn article.