For us, it’s comforting to know that we have stability in our Solr platform and relying on the experts at SearchStax saves us a lot of time in sorting out problems with our Solr infrastructure.
Head of Development Kagool
While building 450,000 homes over the last 60 years, Barratt Developments has grown to become one of Britain’s largest and best housebuilders with more than 6,500 direct employees and 27 divisions. Barratt Homes is their largest consumer brand and offers a wide variety of high quality properties right across the UK, from first time buyer apartments to larger family homes.
In December 2019, Barratt Homes changed digital agencies and started working with UK-based digital agency Kagool. During the initial audit and assessment of their Barratt website, Kagool identified that the Solr search was a specific area that needed to be addressed.
Being in the home selling business, search is a key feature of Barratt’s Sitecore-based website and drives significant traffic as potential buyers shop for neighborhoods and homes. The Search bar commands a prominent position on the Barratt website to quickly let buyers search for homes. If search goes down or has slow response rates, Barratt’s business can be impacted so it is critical that their website has quick response times and high levels of uptime.
Kagool could not adequately support the Linux version of Solr on the Barratt website and recommended that the Solr environments be outsourced to the experts at SearchStax.
Solr is not part of Kagool’s core skill set, so using SearchStax to provision and configure the Solr search platform saved them significant time and allowed them to deploy their resources and expertise into higher value activities.
Barratt has three different Solr environments including Dev, UAT and Production. Over a 4 week period, the Kagool and SearchStax teams were able to set up and implement Solr with about 2 weeks of effort. The project implementation started with the Development environment first and rebuilt the indexes to prove the configurations, and then reproduced the implementation to the other environments.
The Production environment is built on a 2-node cluster in the Azure cloud and includes a provision for Warm Disaster Recovery which provides a performant and high availability Solr platform for Barratt’s website.
After implementing the new Solr environment with SearchStax, the number of problems with search on the Barratt website have been drastically reduced. Since implementing SearchStax, the number of P1 support tickets relating to Solr which had previously accounted fornearly 60% of P1 support tickets has been reduced to zero.
In addition, the implementation is far more stable which has a positive impact on Barratt’s web-driven business. While the upfront costs were comparable, the overall total cost of ownership will be less in the long term because the solution is more stable and ongoing support expenses will be much lower.