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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 that performs consistently around 10ms. The new dynamic bursting of DynamoDB has helped ensure reliable and consistent performance for real-time lookups. We also moved off the clunky and expensive CloudSearch to Amazon Elasticsearch Service for the search functionality. Beyond the high price tag for CloudSearch it also had severe limits streaming updates from DynamoDB, which forced us to batch them - adding extra complexity and CX challenges. We love the fact that DynamoDB can stream directly to ElasticSearch and believe using these two technologies together will handle our scaling needs in an economical way for the foreseeable future.
Maxime is a big supporter of Product Hunt, recognizing the continual request that I add search to the product from others in the community. Having seen many frustrating search implementations on other sites, I assumed it would be hard to integrate and provide something useful. Algolia proved me wrong (see the results here: http://producthunt.co/search).
I'm impressed with the speed and amazing support from the Algolia team. The dashboard analytics and management are incredibly useful, providing insight into how people are using the product and ability to act on those learning without changing a line of code. I would highly recommend it.
Having a great search engine is extremely important for our app store. We find that users love to search, not only when they know what they are looking for but also to discover content around different themes.
In a very rushed period with lots of things to do in parallel, we found that Algolia offered a high quality solution that perfectly solved our problem and we had a first version working great in less than a day.
We also enjoyed getting their feedbacks and ideas to help us improve our search and we are now using Algolia in our internal tools as well. We strongly recommend them!
We were looking for a better search solution for GrowthHackers.com for a couple months. All the options we looked at were either too complicated to setup, didn't have the features we needed, or were too expensive. Algolia hit the right balance for us. It's super fast and easy to customize, and the documentation and examples for getting started are great. Most importantly though, their support rocks. It's always a pleasure talking with their team.
I'm Antonio, TVShow Time's CEO, a startup that has more than 100k+ active users.
Before Algolia, we were using Elastic Search that was costing a lot (hosted on 2 big EC2 instances) and with results that weren't that relevant.
Then we switched to Algolia, in 1 hour. We were blown away by how easy the integration was for such a good relevance in results and high performance.
We tried a lot of services at Socialcam to handle our massive user base. All of them couldn't handle that number of users.
Algolia handles it without any problem but on top of that, it does it at full speed: we get results back in under a few milliseconds. Last but not least, it does it with error handling, which is great as typos are very frequent on mobile...
Elasticsearch is the engine that powers search on the site. From a high level perspective, it’s a Lucene wrapper that exposes Lucene’s features via a RESTful API. It handles the distribution of data and simplifies scaling, among other things.
Given that we are on AWS, we use an AWS cloud plugin for Elasticsearch that makes it easy to work in the cloud. It allows us to add nodes without much hassle. It will take care of figuring out if a new node has joined the cluster, and, if so, Elasticsearch will proceed to move data to that new node. It works the same way when a node goes down. It will remove that node based on the AWS cluster configuration.
The very first version of the search was just a Postgres database query. It wasn’t terribly efficient, and then at some point, we moved over to ElasticSearch, and then since then, Andrew just did a lot of work with it, so ElasticSearch is amazing, but out of the box, it doesn’t come configured with all the nice things that are there, but you spend a lot of time figuring out how to put it all together to add stemming, auto suggestions, all kinds of different things, like even spelling adjustments and tomato/tomatoes, that would return different results, so Andrew did a ton of work to make it really, really nice and build a very simple Ruby gem called SearchKick.
We use ElasticSearch for
- Session Logs
We originally self managed the ElasticSearch clusters, but due to our small ops team size we opt to move things to managed AWS services where possible.
The managed servers, however, do not allow us to manage our own backups and a restore actually requires us to open a support ticket with them. We ended up setting up our own nightly backup since we do per day indexes for the logs/analytics.
Elasticsearch has good tooling and supports a large api that makes it ideal for denormalizing data. It has a simple to use aggregations api that tends to encompass most of what I need a BI tool to do, especially in the early going (when paired with Kibana). It's also handy when you just want to search some text.
Self taught : acquired knowledge or skill on one's own initiative. Open Source Search & Analytics. -time search and analytics engine. Search engine based on Lucene. It provides a distributed, multitenant-capable full-text search engine with an HTTP web interface and schema-free JSON documents.
Algolia helps us search across disparate pieces of information in our staff portal, and allows customers to easily jump around the portal between devices, support conversations, and documentation.
This is the bedrock of kako.pk - it not only serves the JSON data, it doubles as a (very fast) web-server if you connect to the client JS widget libraries
We use algolia to power our product search / filtering (https://www.shoesofprey.com/shoes).
We started with Algolia, but switched to our home-backed full-text search solution. It's serverless, based on Lunr.js