Time to replace your Google Search Appliance with open source search

As many others have noted, Google have recently announced their Google Search Appliance (GSA) will not be available for sale from 2017. Search gurus Miles Kehoe and Martin White have written an insightful analysis of the move with some recommendations as to what to do – because your GSA will simply stop working once the 2-year license expires. I don’t agree with Laurent Fanichet of Sinequa that this “seals the end of the era of commoditized search” – the rapid rise of open source search options has been the main driver of this commoditization, not the GSA. The appliance was also not at all cheap to run for large collections as Stephen Arnold has often noted.

So if you’re unfortunate enought to be one of the (possibly thousands) of GSA users worldwide, what next? There are a number of alternative search appliances and cloud solutions of course, but you should also consider insulating yourself from any future shocks by taking ownership of your search solution with a fully open source stack. Apache Lucene/Solr and Elasticsearch are great starting points for this of course, and you won’t be the first one to make the change (here’s an article from 2011 on Why a project switched from Google Search Appliance to Zend_Lucene which also lists some further problems with the GSA). A great advantage of open source is you won’t be subject to the whims or market success/failure of a vendor – you have a lot more control.

I know of at least one (very) large government agency in the UK, who having limped along for a long while with the FAST ESP search engine (yes, it’s still out there, over five years after Microsoft signalled it wouldn’t be supported) were considering the GSA as a replacement. It may be time for them to consider other options!

As ever, we’re happy to help anyone considering a migration – just get in touch.

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