Search Options for Sitecore
Because Sitecore supports two search engines – Solr Search and Azure Search – the question of whether to use Solr Search vs. Azure Search is an ongoing debate. But for many users, Solr Search is the hands-down winner for many reasons.
What is Solr Search?
Solr is an open source enterprise search platform that is part of the Apache Lucene project. Solr Search is widely used for enterprise level search and analytics in Sitecore deployments.
Key features of Solr include:
- Advanced full-text search capabilities
- Optimized for environments that have high traffic and performance standards
- Highly-scalable and fault-tolerant with replication, distribution, rebalancing and fault tolerance built-in
- Near real-time indexing
- Flexible and adaptable with easy configuration
Solr is true open-source software which means there is no vendor lock-in, the software can be extended and it is supported by a large community of open source developers. Also, there is no license cost for Solr which makes it great for very large implementations. As such, the Solr Search platform is widely used by a majority of high volume commercial and public sector websites and applications.
How Does Sitecore Use a Search Engine?
Sitecore uses a search engine for two purposes in a standard deployment:
- Content search – is the default search mechanism in Sitecore Experience Manager which indexes and finds content from the master, core or web databases.
- xConnect search – is the search engine that indexes and finds contacts and interactions in the Experience Database.
Biggest Reason to Use Solr with Sitecore 10
Sitecore 10 was released in August 2020. The release offers many new features and SearchStax has already updated our Sitecore Plugin which accelerates implementations. If you are implementing Sitecore XP 10, using Solr is a the only option for you if you want to protect your long term investment.
While Sitecore 10 supports both Solr and Azure Search, support for Azure Search is deprecated in Sitecore XP 10.0.0 and will be completely removed in a later release. If you are not using Solr search currently for your Sitecore search engine, you should start planning your migration and upgrade plan.
When to Use Solr Search for Sitecore
Sitecore’s product documentation notes that Solr is “the default search engine for content search and xConnect search for on-premise installations.”
In addition, Sitecore recommends that Solr should be used for a scaled environment in on-premise installations, and either Solr or Azure Search in an Azure environment for scaled environments.
Based on our experience and other experts’ advice, you should use Solr Search for Sitecore if:
- You have an eCommerce application
- Your application needs multilingual support
- Your application will have high volumes of traffic
- Your application needs to be highly customized
- Your application uses Sitecore features that require Solr
- Your indexing requirements are higher than normal as Solr tends to perform better
- You want to select a search platform that will not limit you in the next 3-5 years as your needs grow, whether from a scale perspective or functionality perspective
- You want to locate your environment (or disaster recovery environment) in an Azure Region where Azure Search isn’t available
How do Solr and Azure Search Compare?
Solr Search for Sitecore offers many benefits compared to Azure Search. Such as:
- Solr has better performance – > it’s 4x faster when indexing
- Solr blows away Azure’s limits
- Solr is fully scalable up and down at any time
- Solr adds capabilities to Sitecore that Azure cannot do
- Solr is available in more regions than Azure
- Solr is significantly less expensive for larger deployments
We have prepared an in-depth presentation that analyzes and compares Solr Search vs Azure Search for Sitecore deployments that you can view below.