Elastic Search: What You Need to Know

Elastic Man

Oracle has now added support for Elastic Search starting in PeopleTools 8.55.11. Elastic is an open source search platform built for scale, adaptability and extension. That is music to our ears at IntraSee and is welcomed by those having struggles with the current SES search. We learned a lot more about the search transition this year in San Francisco. In short, Oracle Secure Enterprise Search (SES) is deprecated and will no longer be available starting in PeopleTools 8.56. Oracle assures us there will be at least an 18-month transition period for clients who want to remain on SES – though staying on SES any longer than you need to isn’t something we would recommend.

What do I get with Elastic?

Elastic brings a vast number of features. There are too many to go through here, but there are some notable ones we will mention. The entire Elastic infrastructure is built for distribution providing greater performance and scalability. In fact, Wikipedia uses Elastic and they index a whole lot of content and serve a massive amount of search requests.

Elastic is API driven and its API relies on a RESTful model. This will make the integration between PeopleTools and Elastic much faster as it won’t have the overhead of SOAP like SES did. This is in line with Oracle’s overall strategy in going with a REST model across their entire technology stack as opposed to SOAP.

The last feature we want to mention that has us most excited is the search query capabilities of Elastic. You can even control relevance and tie into geolocation. These features will allow IntraSee to take search up another couple of levels 😄 Imagine search results sorting based on your physical location. This could be handy for a multi-campus institution or a global corporation where you don’t want to omit global content, but you do want the local stuff to be at the top.

Timing

Oracle has now made Elastic available with the 8.55.11 release! They have not yet announced general availability of 8.56.

Oracle is continuing to support SES, albeit not performing new development on the platform, for the next 18 months. That is good news as it likely means Elastic integration would have time to go through three major releases. The first on 8.55, the second on 8.56 and the third on 8.57. That allows customers to wait until 8.57 if they choose to.

When SES came out, it took a couple major releases before customers started widely adopting the new search technology. It has to be noted, however, that SES came with an entirely new PTSF. Now that PTSF has matured, the change to Elastic should be far more rapid. 2017 should be the year of preparing for Elastic and especially so if you make heavy use of search like many of our clients.

IntraSee Product Support

We believe search is a critical part of a good user experience and many of our products take advantage of search. We will be adding Elastic support to our products so that we can take advantage of all the enhanced capabilities.

Oracle did a great thing with Search by creating a search API built into PeopleCode. This is known as the PeopleTools Search Framework or PTSF for short. This provides an abstraction layer to search and it allows Oracle to more easily plug in Elastic without disrupting existing code lines.

Our products all use the PTSF. Oracle has stated that existing indexes on the PTSF will port easily. We will be testing this and ensuring all of our indexes port well. Beta customers have called the switch to Elastic, “a walk in the park…” so we do not expect major problems.