After 14 years of providing search in a box, Google has decided to stop supporting their hardware-based Google Search Appliance (GSA), leaving thousands of organizations in a lurch. Google is rumored to be building a cloud-based solution, which is now in limited beta. Thousands of companies all over the world are looking for alternatives to replace Google Search Appliance (GSA).
Search has become strategic for organizations. It allows their employees and customers to efficiently access their digital assets. Restructuring a search solution is not a simple task, and should be handled with strategic importance. During 14 years, Google has helped thousands of organizations achieve their business goals, but it was not always easy to work with GSA. A lot of lessons have been learnt, which will help organizations to make the right decisions about the strategy of their future enterprise search solutions.
Google Search Appliance Wasn’t That Magical
Search in a box doesn’t mean that as soon as you plug it in your ecosystem, you’ll automagically get a relevant search solution. Google is probably the best Web search engine, but when it comes to enterprise ecosystems, the content and its structure can be very different from the Web. By dealing with a black box and one-size-fits-all algorithm, the organizations could never understand the behaviour behind the search results.
While the Google Search Appliance provides, as usual, an intuitive user experience, it can be hard to tune the display of the results. In addition, the relevance algorithm is not optimized for all the scenarios, which makes it really hard for organization to get what they really need. Indeed, every organization has its unique “mess” of data, and requires significant customization before reaching a decent level of relevance. Moreover, Google Search Appliance does not provide personalized user search experience. All users get the same result regardless of who they are, their preferences, and their behaviour from previous searches.
When it comes to cost, several organizations got bad surprises when they received the bills. Indeed, the GSA is priced by the number of documents in the index: the more documents you have, the more you pay. This pricing model is not optimal for today’s organizations, where the number of produced documents is constantly increasing.
Google Search Appliance Replacement
If you have some of those (cute) yellow appliances, now is a good time to think about your next solution. There is news that Google will be rolling out a cloud-based solution as replacement for GSA, but that solution might never come! Even if it comes, will it be more flexible and better than the existing GSA? Will your organization be ready to move to the cloud? Will it be easy to migrate from your existing ecosystem to the cloud? Several questions remain open, and as long as there’s no answer, you’ll put your organization at serious risk if you wait for Google’s cloud solution.
So, What Are The Alternatives?
If you want to have transparent search relevance and get the best results, you should not consider a commercial solution. Your organization is unique, and there’s no magic commercial solution that can give you a relevant search solution without heavy customization. Instead of adopting a black box approach, you should consider using open source platforms, such as Elasticsearch and Apache Solr. These two platforms have become the defacto search solution. They are trusted by thousands of companies and empower some of the most heavily-trafficked platforms in the world (e.g., Apple, Nasa, eBay, Netflix, Instagram, eBay, etc.).
By using Elasticsearch or Solr, you can have full control of your data and search relevance, which will give your users a richer search experience. You’ll have the flexibility and agility to apply your business rules without having any delays that could impact your business goals.
Building an open-source based search solution will guarantee you a continuous improvement of your platform. You’ll not be waiting for the one-size-fits-all black box to update their algorithm in order to have a new feature. You can add any new signal or data, such as feedback from user behaviour. You can provide personalized user experience by integrating feedback from user behaviour.
If you are wondering what internal expertise your organization should have to take advantage of this, check within your tech team.You will probably find that some of your engineers have already worked with Solr or Elasticsearch. These two platforms have been democratized to the point that there are several experts available in the market. You can easily find companies like Big Wisdom who provide Enterprise Search consulting that can help you to build your internal platforms as well as your internal team.
If you’re a GSA licensee, maybe it’s not bad news that Google is ending their appliance. This gives you an opportunity to review your search strategy as whole and synch it with your long-term vision.
You want to replace your Google Search Appliance? Get in touch today to learn more about our services.