Search-as-a-Service: Azure Search is now Generally Available


Azure Search

Dear Developers,

We are happy to announce that Azure Search is now generally available (GA)! Azure Search is a search-as-a-service solution that helps developers to build sophisticated search experiences into web and mobile applications. This release offers a number of new features. Keep reading to learn more.

Azure Search Service is a fully managed cloud service that allows developers to build rich search applications using a .NET SDK or REST APIs. It includes full-text search scoped over your content, plus advanced search behaviors similar to those found in commercial web search engines, such as type-ahead query suggestions based on a partial term input, hit-highlighting, and faceted navigation. Natural language support is built-in, using the linguistic rules that are appropriate to the specified language.

You can scale your service based on the need for increased search or storage capacity. For example, retailers can increase capacity to meet the extra volumes associated with holiday shopping or promotional events.

Azure Search takes the complexity out of managing a cloud search service and simplifies the creation of search-based web and mobile applications.

Many customers have already started using Azure Search in production. A great example is XOMNI, a software-as-a-service company that provides an omnichannel platform to large companies such as global consumer electronics and video game retailer GameStop. They have been using Azure Search as part of their solution to help retailers build rich, in-store and mobile experiences designed to engage consumers and their devices. Today XOMNI is announcing global availability of the 3rd generation of their platform with Azure Search.

“We base our performance requirements on what a retailer might experience during peak shopping days.” For example, a Tier-1 retailer’s requirements include 60 queries per second and 11 gigabytes of data. “But we can’t run our highest resources all the time. With DocumentDB and Azure Search, we can scale dynamically to meet spikes in demand and pay only for what we consume.”
Daron Yöndem, Chief Technology Officer, XOMNI

autoTRADER.ca, the largest used car marketplace in Canada is leveraging Azure Search in their new used car auction site for dealers —a new way for dealers to purchase vehicles, traditionally accomplished through trade-in or in-person auctions. This has enabled a new way for dealers to source vehicles and a new way to interact with autoTRADER.ca. This month they will be moving their autoTRADER.ca consumer marketplace, with its over five million users each month, to Azure search – both on the web and mobile.

“The way people access online services has changed. Half of our users access our marketplace through mobile devices. Our mobile apps have been downloaded more than 2 million times. These users want information faster than ever; they expect real-time experiences. Azure Search provides a scalable solution that can keep ahead of our explosive growth.”
Shane Sullivan, Director of Software Engineering, autoTRADER.ca

In this GA release, I am also excited to outline a number of new features including:

  • .NET SDK: A .NET software development kit (SDK) that makes working with Azure Search a more familiar experience. You can add this as a NuGet reference directly from Visual Studio by simply searching for “Azure Search”. We published a tutorial for the .NET SDK here.
  • Enhanced multilanguage support: This release offers enhanced multilanguage support for more than 50 languages—with the same technology used by Microsoft Office and Bing, built on our many years of experience with natural language processing (NLP). This NLP stack provides another choice for handling languages including a deep understanding of the unique differences across each of the supported languages.
  • Indexers: You can now more easily load data from Azure DocumentDB, SQL Server running in Azure VMs, and Azure SQL Database to Azure Search using new indexers. The indexer infrastructure provides a no-code solution that allows you to point Azure Search to your data store where it will ingest data as well as data changes on a scheduled basis.
  • New API versions: The release also introduces a new set of API versions.
    • 2015-02-28: This is the officially supported API for this release. You will notice the features from the previous prototype version 2014-10-20-Preview such as the Lucene analyzers have been integrated into this version. In addition, this is the only version that offers an SLA.
    • 2015-02-28-Preview: This is the new “prototype” version where we bring in new experimental features. In this version you will find the enhancements to multilanguage support as well as the new “more like this” feature. As with the previous prototype, please do not take a dependency on this version as features can and will change within this version on a regular basis. We’ll continue to migrate features to the next officially supported API as we see evidence that they are useful to customers. Preview API documentation is here.

Over the next few weeks we will posting more details and samples that highlight these new features. For more details on this release please visit the Azure Search Documentation webpage.

If you would like to learn more about some of the customers currently leveraging Azure Search, please visit the Azure Case Studies for Azure Search.


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