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Likelihood to Recommend

Apache Solr

Solr spins up nicely and works effectively for small enterprise environments providing helpful mechanisms for fuzzy searches and facetted searching. For larger enterprises with complex business solutions you'll find the need to hire an expert Solr engineer to optimize the powerful platform to your needs.Internationalization is tricky with Solr and many hosting solutions may limit you to a latin character set.
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Azure Search

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.
Erik Ralston profile photo

Pros

  • Easy to get started with Apache Solr. Whether it is tackling a setup issue or trying to learn some of the more advanced features, there are plenty of resources to help you out and get you going.
  • Performance. Apache Solr allows for a lot of custom tuning (if needed) and provides great out of the box performance for searching on large data sets.
  • Maintenance. After setting up Solr in a production environment there are plenty of tools provided to help you maintain and update your application. Apache Solr comes with great fault tolerance built in and has proven to be very reliable.
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  • 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.
Erik Ralston profile photo

Cons

  • These examples are due to the way we use Apache Solr. I think we have had the same problems with other NoSQL databases (but perhaps not the same solution). High data volumes of data and a lot of users were the causes.
  • We have lot of classifications and lot of data for each classification. This gave us several problems:
  • First: We couldn't keep all our data in Solr. Then we have all data in our MySQL DB and searching data in Solr. So we need to be sure to update and match the 2 databases in the same time.
  • Second: We needed several load balanced Solr databases.
  • Third: We needed to update all the databases and keep old data status.
  • If I don't speak about problems due to our lack of experience, the main Solr problem came from frequency of updates vs validation of several database. We encountered several locks due to this (our ops team didn't want to use real clustering, so all DB weren't updated). Problem messages were not always clear and we several days to understand the problems.
Philippe Kozak profile photo
  • 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.
Erik Ralston profile photo

Alternatives Considered

Some people on my team tried MondoDB and had several problems (don't remember which ones).Elasticsearch would be a good choice but we didn't have it in our minds when we made the choice.
Philippe Kozak profile photo
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.
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Return on Investment

  • It has enabled my organization to find information faster by being a one-stop service to search across content that were indexed from varying sources.
  • By using synonyms and usual lemmatizations / stemming, it enabled discovery of new content following every search.
Kelvin Yeo profile photo
  • 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.
Erik Ralston profile photo

Pricing Details

Apache Solr

General
Free Trial
Free/Freemium Version
Premium Consulting/Integration Services
Entry-level set up fee?
No
Additional Pricing Details

Azure Search

General
Free Trial
Free/Freemium Version
Premium Consulting/Integration Services
Entry-level set up fee?
No
Additional Pricing Details