Posts Tagged ‘amazon’

Strange bedfellows? The rise of cloud based search

Last night our US partners Lucid Imagination announced that LucidWorks, their packaged and supported version of Apache Lucene/Solr, is available on Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing service. It seems like only a few weeks since Amazon announced their own CloudSearch system and no doubt other ’search as a service’ providers are waiting in the wings (we’re going to need a new acronym as SaaS is already taken!). At first the combination of a search platform based on open source Java code with Microsoft hosting might seem strange, and it raises some interesting questions about the future of Microsoft’s own FAST Search technology – is this final proof that FAST will only ever be part of Sharepoint and never a standalone product? However with search technology becoming more and more of a commodity this is a great option for customers looking for search over relatively small numbers of documents.

Lucid’s offering is considerably more flexible and full-featured than Amazon’s, which we hear is pretty basic with a lack of standard search features like contextual snippets and a number of bugs in the client software. You can see the latter in action at Runar Buvik’s excellent OpenTestSearch website. With prices for the Lucid service ranging from free for small indexes, this is certainly an option worth considering.

Amazon CloudSearch – a game changer?

Amazon have just launched a cloud-based search service, which promises a ‘fully managed search service in the cloud’ – and it certainly looks impressive, with auto-scaling built in. You simply create a service, upload documents as JSON or XML and then perform searches. For cases where you need to search publically available data this offers a great way to avoid having to install and integrate any search software – of course it won’t be so popular if you’re worried about where your data actually is, or other complications such as the Patriot Act.

As you might expect, some people are already offering services based around CloudSearch (we’d be happy to do the same - just ask!) and there’s a demo of searching Wikipedia available. I’m not sure who SmackBot is but I’m slightly wary of reading any Wikipedia articles it’s had something to do with…

Of course searching Wikipedia is nothing new and I sometimes wish for a different choice of source material for search demos.

One thing that seems clear is that with the rise of cloud-based search options (here’s another from our partners Lucid Imagination, based on Apache Lucene/Solr) the cost and complication of ’simple’ search projects could fall dramatically, applying further pressure to those companies selling closed source search engines for frankly unrealistic prices. Amazon’s offering, with their huge experience in cloud-based services, has the potential to be a game changer for the search market.

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Posted in News, Technical

April 12th, 2012

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