Enterprise Search: Comparing Elasticsearch and OpenSearch
- by Jason McClellan
- August 01, 2022
- search• data-analytics• logging• monitoring• database
- 4 minutes to read.
Businesses worldwide implement and rely on search and analytics suite solutions for various functions like data ingestion, searching, analytics, and monitoring. Elasticsearch is one solution used by a diverse range of organizations, and it’s popular among enterprise clients. But with options like OpenSearch gaining momentum, is an open source solution a realistic consideration for enterprise?
Elasticsearch made its debut in 2010 and established itself as the most popular search engine. Early iterations of Elasticsearch were open source and a combination of multiple products known as the ELK Stack (Elasticsearch, Logstash, Kibana). In 2021, the company Elastic changed the licensing for future ELK versions, introduced new products, and transformed Elasticsearch into a suite of enterprise tools and began offering it as a service. According to Elastic, many of the world’s biggest companies like Uber, Microsoft, and Netflix use its search solutions.
The move away from open source code by Elastic prompted Amazon to roll out an open source, community-driven fork of Elasticsearch and Kibana called OpenSearch.
The OpenSearch search and analytics suite offers users a data store and search engine, along with a visualization and user interface, making it easy to ingest, search, visualize, and analyze data. Because it’s open source, OpenSearch is highly flexible, enables speed, and it brings cost-effectiveness. And there are several plugins available to augment and enhance functionality.
OpenSearch and OpenSearch Dashboards are the counterpart of ElasticSearch and Kibana, respectively.
In addition to the open source project, Amazon offers OpenSearch as a service in AWS. Other companies have similar services, delivering managed options for OpenSearch and offering additional services on top of the search solution.
Which is better for Enterprise?
According to Elastic, it provides search solutions to thousands of companies around the world, “from startups to the global 2000.” Enterprise clients appreciate the convenience provided by Elasticsearch. It’s a managed service, offered on a single technology stack, and it provides scalability and flexibility to meet a company’s specific needs. Paying for this service is an added security blanket for some, as it provides a lifeline (and/or a scapegoat) if something goes wrong.
When Elasticsearch moved away from open source in 2021, the change was received critically by many in the community. Issues were compounded after OpenSearch rolled out, as Elastic responded by making its client libraries incompatible with OpenSearch. New logic added to its open source client libraries rejected attempted connections to OpenSearch, thereby limiting their use to those who subscribe to one of Elastic’s paid options.
Companies, engineers, and others actively using Elasticsearch adopted a “wait and see” position with regards to OpenSearch when it was introduced. At the time, enterprise search company Pureinsights acknowledged that “Enterprises with products or services built around Elasticsearch and Kibana may have to port to Solr or OpenSearch. The risk involves balancing OpenSearch’s long-term viability versus the reduced popularity of Solr and vendor lock-in (and possibly higher costs) from working with Elastic or their partners.” Pureinsights opined, “The market, again, will dictate what happens.”
Now, a year after OpenSource 1.0 was released, OpenSearch has demonstrated its viability. Now at version 2.1, OpenSearch has been widely adopted and it benefits from significant community contributions and support. This 100% open-source search and analytics suite is extremely appealing to those enterprises seeking the freedom and flexibility offered by OpenSearch. It obviously helps having Amazon’s muscle behind it. It’s also difficult to overlook the appeal of “the freedom to modify, extend, monetize, and resell the product as you see fit;” a strong selling point offered by OpenSearch.
Because of the features it offers, the fact that it’s open source, and the potential cost savings, OpenSearch is a great option worthy of consideration as an Enterprise search solution. This Elasticsearch vs. OpenSearch Business Decision Tree offers guidance. But, ultimately, the decision to go with Elasticsearch or OpenSearch depends on the company and the specific use case. Likewise, not every company is capable of configuring, managing, and maintaining their own deployments of Elasticsearch or OpenSearch. In many cases, a managed solution is needed. But because both OpenSearch and Elasticsearch are offered as managed solutions, again, every business needs to assess the pros and cons of each for their individual situation. Fortunately, the maturity of OpenSearch provides enterprise clients with options when it comes to robust search solutions.
At 47 Degrees, we offer search solutions assessment consulting services for every business case. These services include:
- Infrastructure configuration, implementation, scaling, deployment, automation, and tuning of the data analytics solution.
- Migration between services.
- Development of reliable data connectors for the search solution.
- Support and training.
When you’re ready to explore and evaluate your search solution options, reach out to us. We’re here to help.