The Business Case for an Open Source Search Engine

We often get asked the following questions on open source search:

– Why do I do have to pay for open source?
– We thought it (open source) is free.
– Why can’t I build it (search engine) on my own with the open source API?
– What do I gain or lose by choosing SearchBlox vs. building it on my own?
– How does open source compare with proprietary search?

While the answers to the above questions varies on what you are building and what you hope to accomplish through search, the basic case for an open source based search engine lies in the use case for each customer.

In my view there are really three ways to implement open source based search and the path varies on what you are looking to implement with what budget and in what timeframe:

Build it internally with your IT team
This approach requires you to build or source an internal team that will focus on the implementation of Lucene, Solr or elasticsearch API and basically build everything ground up for search. This also requires for your implementation to stay up to date with the market place on new features and changes. This path requires a lot of investment as you need to gather requirements, code, deploy and support the custom built search engine with internal resources. The cost could easily add up to a few FTEs over the course of the year.

Build it externally with consulting or contracting companies

This approach requires you to provide the requirements to one of the search consulting firms or contractors who will provide the services to code, deploy and maintain your custom search setup. This again involves potentially hundreds of hours contractor time for building the requirements out and maintaining them on an ongoing basis.

Buy a packaged and ready to deploy search product built on open source

The third approach is what SearchBlox offers. You pay a fixed cost per server per year for licensing and support (US$5,000). The open source based search engine is ready to be deployed immediately and the time to implementation is significantly faster. All product updates, fixes or patches are provided for the software all year and there is support/training available. Minimal customization is required to achieve the same end result so the business is happy. Upgrades are easier to manage as there is significant testing done prior to implementation. Overall there is also a large community of users who can collaborate on the questions and challenges in search.

While each scenario has benefits and challenges, for most enterprise search requirements, there is not a need to build everything from the ground up. Even at a very basic 200 hours of custom software development (internal or external) the cost is approximately US$20,000 (200 hours x $100 per hour). SearchBlox offers a packaged search engine that is ready to deploy with fully loaded features for US$5,000 per year. SearchBlox provides a slam dunk business case for open source based search and compares very well with proprietary and blackbox solutions like Google Search Appliance, Endeca and Autonomy.

Contact us with your open source search requirements and see how we can offer a solution that is ready to use out of the box!