Likelihood to Recommend
Algolia is great anytime you need client search. I would never use it to do any automated tasks or anything like that, though. It's great for human use, and I don't know if anyone would ever want to use it for anything other than client-search, but Algolia knows its domain very well and solves client search more easily than any alternative I've seen.
If you have a medium amount of data (2GB - 2.4TB), high-security concerns, and search is a key requirement in your single-tenant application then Azure Search likely has you covered. If you have a small amount of data per tenant (EG, about 2GB), have low-security concerns, and a multi-tenant application where search is a key requirement, then Azure Search would likely be a good choice - though you would need to implement your own concept of sharding and managing across potentially multiple Azure Search instances.If you can reflect your would-be indexes in Azure Search by depositing the data in columns in a SQL table and just index it for full-text search - and that still fits your requirements - it's probably better to start with SQL Database then scale up to Azure Search when you need the advanced features like ranking or cognitive abilities.
- Algolia is brain-dead simple to set up. I've implemented search with Algolia in a dozen different ways now, and it never took me longer than a few minutes to get the functionality I want. With Algolia, the only challenge is designing your search UI -- if you don't want to use their baked in UI solutions.
- Results come back incredibly fast. I'm not sure how Algolia does it, but every keystroke I make in a search field returns new results instantly. It's hard to believe that I'm searching large datasets on a remote server when it works so fast.
- Very little customization is needed for 99% of use-cases. Algolia's out of the box setup works great, and it takes no prior knowledge to set up.
- Azure Search provides a fully-managed service for loading, indexing, and querying content.
- Azure Search has an easy C# SDK that allows you to implement loading and retrieving data from the service very easy. Any developer with some Microsoft experience should feel immediate familiarity.
- Azure Search has a robust set of abilities around slicing and presenting the data during a search, such as narrowing by geospatial data and providing an auto-complete capabilities via "Suggesters".
- Azure Search has one-of-a-kind "Cognitive Search" capabilities that enable running AI algorithms over data to enrich it before it is stored into the service. For example, one could automatically do a sentiment analysis when ingesting the data and store that as one of the searchable fields on the content.
- Recent pricing model changes made Algolia considerably more expensive. I understand that companies change their models all the time, but my plan almost doubled in price overnight. They let me keep my legacy plan for as long as I wanted, but I had already outgrown it, so a small increase in demand caused big price spikes. It's still cheap for what it is though.
- The documentation is generally good, but sometimes hard to navigate. I was trying to find examples of how to combine geo-queries with normal ones, and I couldn't find an example, but it wasn't actually hard to figure out.
- Some of the advanced features can be hard to understand at first. This isn't really a con, as it just means Algolia is loaded with features, but I was a bit overwhelmed the first time I tried to customize an index.
- Like virtually all Azure services, it has first-class treatment for .Net as the developer platform of choice, but largely ignores other options. While there is a first-party Python SDK, there are only community packages for other languages like Ruby and Node. Might be a game of roulette for those to be kept up-to-date. This might make it a non-starter for some teams that don't want to do the work to integrate with the REST API directly.
- In my opinion, partitions inside of Azure Search don't count as data segregation for customers in a multi-tenant app, so any application where you have many customers with high-security concerns, Azure Search is probably a non-starter.
- To elaborate on the multi-tenant issue: Azure Search's approach to pricing is pretty steep. While there is a free tier for small applications (50MB of content or less) the first paid tier is about 14x more expensive than the first SQL Database tier that supports full-text search. For many applications, it makes a lot more economic sense to just run some LIKE or CONTAINS queries on columns in a table rather than going with Azure Search.
Algolia at first seemed and proved to be the fastest compared to the other search engines. It is very easy to implement. Also, it had a 24x7 support which proved to be very useful. It is also useful for all types of clients weather it be organizations or individuals. It can also handle typos. It also focuses on features like API and SSL Security. Also, it is designed to search records, not pages. These were some of the reasons we went ahead with Algolia.
Analyst in Information TechnologyFinancial Services Company, 10,001+ employees
As I've mentioned, the biggest competitor to Azure Search is actually Azure SQL Database. It doesn't have as many features, but it's more economical and most .Net applications will have one already. As long as you can arrive at a schema and ranking strategy, it's a "good enough" solution.There are a variety of search technologies (Lucene, Solr, Elasticsearch) that implement a search service. Some of them are even open source, though I would only say "free" if you do not value your time. They most likely need to be hosted via Container (or VM if you're old school), so you're incurring DevOps costs to not only set them up but monitor and maintain them yourself.
If you're already on AWS, there is almost no reason to use Azure Search. Unless you're already multi-cloud, desperately need the cognitive abilities, and don't mind a potential performance hit from looking across datacenters (hey, it could happen), you should probably just use Amazon CloudSearch.
Return on Investment
- Azure Search enabled us to stand up a robust search capability with very few developer hours.
- The fully-managed service of Azure Search means we get low cost of management (EG, DevOps) going into the future, even though the cost of the service itself definitely reflects the time saved.
- Azure Search counts as a "Cognitive Service" for Microsoft Azure consumption and aligns our products with Microsoft's interests of driving an AI-first approach in the enterprise. Microsoft Partners, service and product companies alike, should be looking to align with this AI vision as it means favorable treatment from the Microsoft sales teams.
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