Almost a month has passed since Sitecore’s annual North American Symposium, and there is plenty to be excited about heading into the next year with Sitecore. As a Sitecore partner, Celerity has great enthusiasm for the direction the software is going in. But out of all the news, Coveo’s announcement that it is offering a free search edition for Sitecore is the one item that will have an immediate impact on your projects as of version 7.5.
As part of my job as a .NET CMS Architect, I’m lucky to get exposure to a lot of different search products. And one pretty consistent desire post-launch for product owners on any system is for better search results and capabilities on their websites.
Disclaimer: This is not a criticism of cheap or free search applications like Lucene and Solr—in many cases, these tools are a great fit and offer a nice “bang for your buck” when incorporating search into your Sitecore site. But for sites with a lot of content, you may get lackluster results without significant tweaking and configuration efforts.
I’m not going to go into details about the many features of Coveo and enterprise search products. If you want to learn more, just watch this video or request a demo on their website. Instead, I’d like to focus on why and when choosing the free edition is a great idea and how it can mature with your search demands.
Why should I choose the Coveo free search edition for Sitecore?
One of the biggest barriers-to-entry for enterprise search products is that they are expensive. The other major restriction is that they can be complex. After all, to employ all of these great features requires configuration, testing, and sometimes adjustments to code just like any other integration. These factors often contribute to making search a priority in phase two of a project instead of on day one. Unfortunately for anyone who has gone through the experience of replacing one search product with another, you have probably realized the scope of such an effort or experienced firsthand the risks associated.
Coveo’s free offering addresses two of those three concerns. It offers a no-cost option for enterprise search that will give you the ability to expand capabilities over the lifetime of your site. It also means that you will not have to worry about replacing your search tool with another product down the line. At least not due to a lack of features or capabilities.
When does it make sense to use the free edition?
If this all sounds too good to be true, you’re partially right. The free edition of Coveo does not come with most of the bells and whistles that the purchased edition has. The biggest showstopper is that the free edition can only index one data source, and that data source is your Sitecore instance. If you have a need for federated search and indexing multiple sites or data sources, this will not fit your needs and you’ll need the purchased edition. Along those same lines, connectors for various data sources and types are not free either. But this is not necessarily as limiting as it sounds. You can still import data from various data sources into the Sitecore database and discover that data with the free search edition.
The main reason to be excited by this announcement is that it gives product owners the ability to scale into search as their websites grow. You can start simple, building out your Sitecore site using Coveo free edition, and then upgrade into the paid edition if it has features you’d like to leverage at a later date. Because you already have Coveo set up, you won’t have to worry about replacing it with another product and can focus on implementing new features and connectors instead.
For more information on enterprise search, check out our free whitepaper: Enterprise Search Solutions: Maximizing the Value of Your Digital Assets