What is a Search as a Service?

Searching is an important part of any business database function, either through internal databases, internal document stores, or through the content of a website. Search is needed for both internal company staff and for external customers.

Implementing a search for millions of documents with thousands of concurrent users and strict requirements for low search latency is challenging. It requires expert knowledge and often specialized software that is not readily available, or when using open-source software that comes with expensive hardware requirements. Building your own search in-house not only requires specialized expert knowledge and a dedicated engineering team, but it is also a time-consuming project with inherent project risks. According to a study, 68 percent of IT projects fail.

A search-as-a-service provider does all the heavy lifting for you to ensure scalability and performance for your searches (or your users/customers searches). Using a search as a service frees you from all those risks associated with large IT projects because it's hosted in the cloud and operated and managed by the search as a service provider. It offers a risk-free, turn-key solution with high performance and a very short time-to-market.

A search as a service provider removes the need to develop an own search solution, setting up an IT project and a dedicated team for development and operation. A search as a service provider is also able to utilize the Scaling effects of a multi-tenant architecture and to provide the service for a much lower cost than those involved with hosting an own on-premises search.

Search as a service may also be particularly useful for mobile applications, where the client device is limited for storage, processing speed, and connection bandwidth.

Search-as-service is based on the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model, in which software is licensed on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted. SaaS applications are also known as Web-based software, on-demand software, and hosted software. The term "software as a service" (SaaS) is considered to be part of cloud computing, along with infrastructure as a service (IaaS). Software as a Service (SaaS) extends the idea of the ASP model. While most ASP's focus on managing and hosting third-party independent software vendors' software, SaaS vendors typically develop and manage their own software. SaaS solutions normally utilize a multitenant architecture, in which the application serves multiple businesses and users.

The client then uses the search-as-a-service provider's search API to upload content data for the content to be searched. The provider then constructs a search index for this content. The customer then uses the provider's search API to search their indexed data.

Search as a service is offered under various names, sometimes covering different aspects of search. Whether it is called a hosted search, managed search, search provider, cloud search, site search, enterprise search, custom search, or eCommerce search.