Acquia Search available commercially

It's a big day for us at Acquia. We finally took the beta-wraps off of Acquia Search, and made it available commercially as part of the Acquia Network. Thanks to the 250+ beta testers who helped make our hosted search service fit for use in production environments, including Brightcove, JackBe Developer Community, P-O-P Design, Wide Divots and others.

We used the beta period to look at the usage statistics, costs, and to talk to a lot of beta users to figure out the best pricing model for this service. We decided on the following:

Acquia Search is included for no additional cost in every Acquia Network subscription. Basic and Professional subscribers have one "search slice" and Enterprise subscribers have five "search slices". A slice includes the processing power to index your site, to do index updates, to store your index, and to process your site visitors' search queries. Each slice includes 10MB of indexing space - enough for a site with between 1,000 and 2,000 nodes. Customers who exceed the level included with their subscription may purchase additional slices. A ten-slice extension package costs an additional $1,000/year, and will cover an additional 10,000 - 20,000 nodes in an index of 100MB.

For my personal blog, which has about 900 nodes at the time of this writing, a Basic Acquia Network subscription ($349 USD/year) would give me all the benefits of Acquia Search, plus all the other Acquia Network services.

Acquia search subscription data

For some of you, this might sound like a lot of money, but we believe you get a lot of value in return. In my next couple of blog posts, I plan to outline the benefits of Acquia Search to your site visitors and to Drupal site administrators. Stay tuned!

Comments

Andy Forbes (not verified):

The last big Drupal site I worked on had roughly 2.2M nodes - what kind of pricing are we talking about for sites of that size?

Thanks!

June 30, 2009
Dries:

It depends on how "big" these nodes are, how many of these nodes you'd want to be searchable, etc. The size of the index determines our costs, and by extension, the number of slices that are required.

For large sites, we can certainly negotiate on price.

July 1, 2009
Anonymous (not verified):

Some of us might think that’s expensive because it is expensive. That’s more than I pay for the domain fees for three domains and my shared Web hosting account over a two year period. By about 40%.

It also appears that the cost of the Basic subscription has gone up. Wasn’t it $199/year or $299/year very recently?

I’m not begrudging Acquia making money to support its efforts — efforts like Acquia Search which I appreciate — but this prices it out of the range of people who only want faster and better search for hobbyist sites — and who don’t need or even want the other services.

I guess I’ll hope that core Search improves.

July 1, 2009
Dries:

Acquia Search is an enterprise-grade, highly-available, scalable, secure, fully managed search solution with uptime SLAs. Compared to other commercial alternatives, our pricing is very competitive.

Everyone's mileage varies, and we realize that. Acquia Search is not for everyone -- it is primarily for commercial organizations for whom good search is important. Some of these organizations told us our pricing is "ridiculously cheap".

I'll write up one or two more blog posts to explain (1) how your Drupal site's visitors can benefit from Acquia Search, (2) how site administrators can benefit from Acquia Search, (3) what we, as a company, are investing in Acquia Search, and (4) some additional details about the enterprise search market. I think that might help you put the pricing in perspective.

July 1, 2009
dalin (not verified):

If core search is not good enough for you and you want something more then you've probably incorrectly classified yourself as a hobbyist.

July 1, 2009
BryanSD (not verified):

Dries, it's great to hear that Acquia Search is out of beta. During the four months that I've used Acquia Search I've had nothing but a positive experience.

I won't argue with those commenting that Acquia Search is out of their own price range based on the current needs of their site. The truth is once my free subscription for participating in Acquia's beta programs are over, I may find myself going back to Drupal's core search. But I think it's important that people realize Acquia Network and Acquia Search are for those people whose site or business requires a site search engine and the associated services to score very high in reliability, performance, and dependability.

It all comes down to cost analysis. Whether on the Internet or behind the firewall everyone wants their information fast. Personally, if I'm searching a site and don't see the results quickly I will move on to a site that serves me better. I think most people are this way and profitable businesses understand the potential losses of keeping with a slower product. Acquia search is a perfect fit for those companies that have done the math and found that their Drupal site can't afford to not have what Acquia's Network and Acquia's Search has to offer them.

And now that I sound like a freaking infomercial...I'm done with this post.

Bryan Ruby
CMSReport.com

July 1, 2009
Dries:

Your comment nailed it, Bryan. Thanks!

Do a cost analysis of settings up highly-available, scalable infrastructure and running and maintaining your own Apache Solr and Apache Lucene instances. Even for a smaller site like yours, you'll find that Acquia Search is cheap.

July 1, 2009
JacobSingh (not verified):

*easter egg*

We did a lot of thinking about the cost, and it could change in the future, but here's a three things to consider, for the easter egg, see the last one.

1. For less than $30 a month, you are getting uptime monitoring, access to a knowledge base on acquia.com, spam filtering and a very nice search engine which does more than search.

We understand that if you make absolutely 0 money off of your web property, this may seem substantial, but then, Acquia is looking to be a profitable company, so we need to appeal to people who make money off of their web sites / see it is a viable cost center.

2. We believe search as a service pays for itself if you make any money off of your ads. By using content recommendation powered by Acquia Search, we have seen significant increases in pages per visit. In addition, a faceted search engine will seriously up your conversions if you are selling anything.

3. We might offer a cheaper version at some point in the future anyway. But until then, make a compelling case to us about why you'd make a good alpha tester, and if we are interested and you agree to waive the SLA, you can use Acquia Search and try out all the latest and greatest features as we roll them out.

Best,
Jacob

July 1, 2009
Erich (not verified):

Why would someone want to pay for "enterprise" searching when it's freely available with the Search Lucene API module? It's got none of the hassle of Java and none of the cost of Acquia.

It's not as simple as comparing Acquia Search to Drupal's core search, as there are alternatives.

July 6, 2009
Dries:

The goal of my blog post wasn't to provide an exhaustive comparison of different search solution -- but that would certainly make for a great blog post on its own.

I haven't used Search Lucene API myself, but it looks like it could work well. It takes a clever approach. I'll try installing it on my personal site over the next couple of weeks to see if it offers me the same functionality that Acquia Search gives me (e.g. faceted search, content recommendations, spelling mistakes, document search, etc).

Given that the Search Lucene API is "kind of a built-in search", another important question is how it will scale. We know that Drupal's built-in search doesn't scale. For example, we had to disable it on drupal.org, even when drupal.org was a lot smaller. Comparing the performance and scalability of Drupal's default search with that of the Search Lucene API module and Acquia Search would be very interesting. As soon as I have a bit more time, I'd love to look into this.

We already know that Acquia Search is 300% to 1500% faster than Drupal's built-in search. We also know that, for larger sites, external search such as Acquia Search provides a proven, easy and quick way to help you scale your website. Many of the big Drupal sites have taken that approach lately.

July 7, 2009
JacobSingh (not verified):

Hi Erich,
There are numerous reasons we decided to go with Lucene and Solr as opposed to the PHP based port of Lucene and Zend's code. Here are a few:

1. Solr is scalable. We want to be able to compete in environments where horizontal scaling is important, Solr gives us that. We can even shard indexes, Solr is proven to go to millions of documents and hundreds of GB.

2. Solr is a webservice, that means you can distribute it, run it from anywhere, and share live indexes between two sites. This also means less to upgrade for customers, and guaranteed performance as we manage that.

3. Solr is more feature rich. It is very actively being developed. The Zend Lucene project does not have (AFAICT) a thriving community or commercial support.

4. Solr is native Java, it's faster and newer. The Zend port of Lucene is typically a minor or a major version old. Zend supports 2.3 at this moment, Lucene/Solr is on 2.41.

5. Java Lucene and Solr has better tests, and is proven in enterprises. The Zend project, while beign very ambitious and cool, does not have that history.

6. The ApacheSolr project on d.o. has a community around it, LuceneAPI has one committer, ApacheSolr has 7. This is not a question of longevity, AS module has always had way more of a community base. We feel that is necessary for the longevity of a project.

I hope that gives you some ideas of why we choose to go with Java Lucene instead of the PHP port. The Luceneapi project is very cool, and would probably be a good choice for very small sites who cannot afford our network services @ $25/mo, don't want to participate in our beta program or don't have money/time to configure a Java servlet.

Best,
Jacob

July 7, 2009

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