• 🧠 NEW! SearchBlox 10.6 launches AI Assistants easily and securely. Get Started.

What is Elasticsearch?

What is Elasticsearch?

What is Elasticsearch? 1920 814 SearchBlox

What is Elasticsearch?

An introduction to this powerful, popular search engine.

We build our search products on Elasticsearch because it’s the world’s leading open source search and analytics solution. Elasticsearch is built on the Apache Lucene library, a product of the Apache Software Foundation, a nonprofit, decentralized, open source community of developers.

Unlike Google and other popular search engines designed for consumer use, the Elasticsearch engine is used by businesses that require enterprise search.

Who Needs Elasticsearch?

Leading tech companies, including Uber, Slack, Shopify and Robinhood use Elasticsearch. Internally, businesses use it for quick and seamless access to data and log analytics across an entire database. Externally, businesses use Elasticsearch to provide customers near-instant results for their queries.

Elasticsearch offers a number of advantages to these businesses. But before we discuss those, it helps to understand how the Elasticsearch engine works.

How Does Elasticsearch Work?

When you use a conventional SQL or relational database, which stores information in columns and rows that are “related” to each other, complex queries of large amounts of information can take a long time. Those delays can cost you customers and reduce productivity.

Elasticsearch is a distributed, document-oriented search engine, which means it’s great at quickly searching large volumes of structured, semi-structured, and unstructured data as well as geo data. NoSQL databases like Elasticsearch scale easily, enabling them to use additional nodes as the database becomes more robust. (More about that later.)

Look at the diagram below.

SearchBlox Products

Enterprise Search

Fully Managed Enterprise Search on AWS

Platinum Support

SearchAI Answers

SearchAI SmartSuggest

Site Search

eCommerce Search

Deployment Options


Self-managed On-prem

Self-managed in the Cloud

Fully Managed in the Cloud

Elasticsearch is the heart of the ELK Stack, which includes Elasticsearch, Logstash, Kibana and Beats.

Logstash is responsible for the extraction or collection of data from a variety of sources, transforming it and loading it where it’s stored. This is sometimes referred to as ETL (extraction, transformation, loading) of data.

Kibana is a data visualization dashboard for Elasticsearch.

Beats are data shippers, which send data from machines and systems to Elasticsearch or Logstash.

Above Elasticsearch, you’ll see the SearchBlox solutions we’ve built using this powerful technology combined with our own proprietary features. (You can click on any of these solutions to learn more.) Below the stack, you’ll see your deployment options: search as a service (SaaS), self-managed on-prem or in the cloud, and fully managed in the cloud.

What Are The Advantages of Elasticsearch?

Elasticsearch offers speed, relevance and scalability and resiliency. Let’s take a closer look at each of these.


Elasticsearch collects data from web apps, log analytics and system metrics before indexing it so the data can be retrieved with a search query. All search engines index data, but Elasticsearch’s scalability allows it to scale more data, faster. To appreciate how, you have to understand a bit more about indices.

An index is a collection of data that has a similar structure. Elasticsearch stores these data as JSON documents and each of those JSON documents contains a key and a value. Elasticsearch uses an inverted index to search the documents. The keys and values are what make the inverted index work.

In other words, an inverted index maps each unique “word” to the list of documents containing that word, which makes it possible for Elasticsearch to look for, find and retrieve documents with the given keywords very quickly.

To understand how this makes Elasticsearch faster, think about how much faster you can find a specific word in a printed book using the index at the back of the book rather than scanning each individual page for that word.


Searching a structured database is simple. The data in the document or row (if you’re talking about relational databases) either does or does not match the query. And while Elasticsearch does use the same Boolean yes/no matches structured databases do, it also sorts the matching documents by relevance so you’ll see the best matches first.

Scalability and Resilience

Elasticsearch is a distributed search engine, meaning it doesn’t use a central server. Instead, it uses clusters of nodes. Nodes are servers that store data. To increase capacity, you simply add nodes. Then Elasticsearch automatically balances the load by distributing your data and your query load across all the nodes, creating a scalable and highly available solution.

Elasticsearch uses shards to make this work. We already explained how data in Elasticsearch is organized into indices. Each one of those indices is made up of one or more shards. So, Elasticsearch distributes the documents in an index across multiple shards and also distributes those shards across multiple nodes. This creates resiliency, which protects you from hardware failure and allows you to increase query capacity by adding nodes to the cluster.

If your cluster grows or shrinks, Elasticsearch automatically moves shards to rebalance the cluster. There are two types of shards: primaries and replicas. Primary shards are active shards that hold data. Replica Shards are copies of primary shards.

What Are The Advantages of SearchBlox Products Built on Elasticsearch?

We help clients maximize their return on their Elasticsearch investment.

Faster Time to Market

We help you choose the search product that meets your requirements and let you try it for free — with support — for 30 days. Then we deploy and implement it remotely faster than your internal teams can. In fact, we can deploy our Elasticsearch-based products for you in a matter of days.

Out-of-the-box Functionality

Our pricing includes connectors to 150 different data sources. So SearchBlox products connect to your teams’ favorite tools, including Slack, ServiceNow, GitHub, Google Drive, Sharepoint, SalesForce and Amazon Web Services (AWS). We also offer more integrations right out of the box, so you can embed search where your teams work: WordPress, Drupal, Sitecore, React, Agular, etc.

Transparent Pricing

We offer transparent, upfront annual pricing. We even offer flat-fee pricing for our Fully Managed Enterprise Search on AWS, offering you all the efficiencies of cloud computing without requiring you to manage infrastructure or software. With SearchBlox you’ll stay on budget and avoid surprises.

Searchable Encryption

Certain industries, including government, healthcare and financial services, deal with sensitive data that requires high levels of privacy and data protection. So we offer Platinum Support, which enables you to search encrypted data while protecting your customers’ Personally Identifiable Information (PII). To learn more about protecting your data on Elasticsearch, read this blog post about searchable encryption.

Enterprise-Grade Security

We continually scan and patch our enterprise search product to ensure that you and your data have the best protection against security vulnerabilities.

Increased Relevance

Search users sometimes struggle to choose the correct search terms. And when they can’t find what they want or need, they bounce.

Autocomplete tools only provide suggestions that start with a keyword or phrase. SearchAI SmartSuggest offers complete phrases associated with the keyword or phrase you type, more accurately predicting your search intent

Natural Language Queries

Customers and employees don’t want to wade through pages of search results to find relevant answers. SearchAI Answers understands natural language and provides a featured answer using a model we create with your content. SearchAI Answers can respond to natural language queries on a search results page, in a chatbot and via voice assistant.

Indices Management

We offer advanced features including a web admin console to simplify indices management.

More Languages + Document Types

We support 37 languages and more than 40 document formats, from email and mp3 files, to PowerPoint documents and PDFs.

For these reasons, more than 400 enterprises in 30 countries choose SearchBlox.

We help you make the most of your investment in Elasticsearch.

Elasticsearch is a trademark of Elasticsearch B.V., registered in the U.S. and in other countries.

Apache, Apache Lucene, Apache Hadoop, Hadoop, HDFS, and the yellow elephant logo are trademarks of the Apache Software Foundation in the United States and/or other countries.

Back to top