Algolia vs Amazon CloudSearch: What are the differences?
What is Algolia? Developer-friendly API and complete set of tools for building search. Our mission is to make you a search expert. Push data to our API to make it searchable in real time. Build your dream front end with one of our web or mobile UI libraries. Tune relevance and get analytics right from your dashboard.
What is Amazon CloudSearch? Set up, manage, and scale a search solution for your website or application. Amazon CloudSearch enables you to search large collections of data such as web pages, document files, forum posts, or product information. With a few clicks in the AWS Management Console, you can create a search domain, upload the data you want to make searchable to Amazon CloudSearch, and the search service automatically provisions the required technology resources and deploys a highly tuned search index.
Algolia and Amazon CloudSearch can be categorized as "Search as a Service" tools.
Some of the features offered by Algolia are:
- Database search
- Search as you type
On the other hand, Amazon CloudSearch provides the following key features:
- Simple to Configure – You can make your data searchable using the AWS Management Console, API calls, or command line tools. Simply point to a sample set of data, and Amazon CloudSearch automatically proposes a list of index fields and a suggested configuration.
- Automatic Scaling For Data &
- Traffic – Amazon CloudSearch scales up and down seamlessly as the amount of data or query volume changes.
"Ultra fast" is the top reason why over 120 developers like Algolia, while over 6 developers mention "Managed" as the leading cause for choosing Amazon CloudSearch.
According to the StackShare community, Algolia has a broader approval, being mentioned in 254 company stacks & 53 developers stacks; compared to Amazon CloudSearch, which is listed in 16 company stacks and 5 developer stacks.
What is Algolia?
What is Amazon CloudSearch?
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Although we were using Elasticsearch in the beginning to power our in-app search, we moved this part of our processing over to Algolia a couple of months ago; this has proven to be a fantastic choice, letting us build search-related features with more confidence and speed.
Elasticsearch is only used for searching in internal tooling nowadays; hosting and running it reliably has been a task that took up too much time for us in the past and fine-tuning the results to reach a great user-experience was also never an easy task for us. With Algolia we can flexibly change ranking methods on the fly and can instead focus our time on fine-tuning the experience within our app.
Memcached is used in front of most of the API endpoints to cache responses in order to speed up response times and reduce server-costs on our side.
Back in 2014, I was given an opportunity to re-architect SmartZip Analytics platform, and flagship product: SmartTargeting. This is a SaaS software helping real estate professionals keeping up with their prospects and leads in a given neighborhood/territory, finding out (thanks to predictive analytics) who's the most likely to list/sell their home, and running cross-channel marketing automation against them: direct mail, online ads, email... The company also does provide Data APIs to Enterprise customers.
I had inherited years and years of technical debt and I knew things had to change radically. The first enabler to this was to make use of the cloud and go with AWS, so we would stop re-inventing the wheel, and build around managed/scalable services.
For the SaaS product, we kept on working with Rails as this was what my team had the most knowledge in. We've however broken up the monolith and decoupled the front-end application from the backend thanks to the use of Rails API so we'd get independently scalable micro-services from now on.
Our various applications could now be deployed using AWS Elastic Beanstalk so we wouldn't waste any more efforts writing time-consuming Capistrano deployment scripts for instance. Combined with Docker so our application would run within its own container, independently from the underlying host configuration.
Storage-wise, we went with Amazon S3 and ditched any pre-existing local or network storage people used to deal with in our legacy systems. On the database side: Amazon RDS / MySQL initially. Ultimately migrated to Amazon RDS for Aurora / MySQL when it got released. Once again, here you need a managed service your cloud provider handles for you.
Future improvements / technology decisions included:
Caching: Amazon ElastiCache / Memcached CDN: Amazon CloudFront Systems Integration: Segment / Zapier Data-warehousing: Amazon Redshift BI: Amazon Quicksight / Superset Search: Elasticsearch / Amazon Elasticsearch Service / Algolia Monitoring: New Relic
As our usage grows, patterns changed, and/or our business needs evolved, my role as Engineering Manager then Director of Engineering was also to ensure my team kept on learning and innovating, while delivering on business value.
One of these innovations was to get ourselves into Serverless : Adopting AWS Lambda was a big step forward. At the time, only available for Node.js (Not Ruby ) but a great way to handle cost efficiency, unpredictable traffic, sudden bursts of traffic... Ultimately you want the whole chain of services involved in a call to be serverless, and that's when we've started leveraging Amazon DynamoDB on these projects so they'd be fully scalable.
We send over 20 billion emails a month on behalf of our customers. As a result, we manage hundreds of millions of "suppression" records that track when an email address is invalid as well as when a user unsubscribes or flags an email as spam. This way we can help ensure our customers are only sending email that their recipients want, which boosts overall delivery rates and engagement. We need to support two primary use cases: (1) fast and reliable real-time lookup against the list when sending email and (2) allow customers to search, edit, and bulk upload/download their list via API and in the UI. A single enterprise customer's list can be well over 100 million. Over the years as the size of this data started small and has grown increasingly we have tried multiple things that didn't scale very well. In the recent past we used Amazon DynamoDB for the system of record as well as a cache in Amazon ElastiCache (Redis) for the fast lookups and Amazon CloudSearch for the search function. This architecture was overly complicated and expensive. We were able to eliminate the use of Redis, replacing it with direct lookups against DynamoDB, fronted with a stripped down Node.js API