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What Is the Best Search Service to Use in Ektron?

Chris Osterhout SVP of Strategy
#CMS, #Ektron
Published on June 24, 2014

Determining which search service to use is a key aspect of planning an Ektron upgrade. Read our recommendations to find out what is the best approach for your site.

Keeping your Ektron software up to date is essential for maintaining the security of your site and utilizing all the available features in order to receive the best ROI. However, as you move to later versions of the Ektron software, there is one aspect of the upgrade process that can cause some confusion: how to power the searches on your site. In version 8.5, Ektron introduced Microsoft Search Server Express and Microsoft FAST Search Server. With version 9.0, support for Apache Solr was added. As you upgrade your Ektron software, you will reach a decision point on what search service to use, so you’ll need to understand the pros and cons of each of the available options.

Our Recommendations:

If you’re using Ektron version 8.5, we recommend using Microsoft Search Server Express. This service is free, and it improves upon the capabilities of the Microsoft Indexing Service, which was available in previous versions of Ektron. If you’re using MS Search Server Express, you need to be aware that it requires Microsoft Sharepoint to run, and it does not have strong support for faceted search. If faceted search is required, we recommend using Microsoft FAST Search Server, which will require purchasing an additional license to use.

In Ektron version 9.0, Apache Solr is supported, and we recommend using this service, unless specific Ektron API searches which require sorting of smart form fields are required. If your site utilizes this type of search or API call, we recommend the continued use of Microsoft Search Server Express.

Ektron version 9.1 includes full support of Apache Solr, and we recommend that all clients who have upgraded to this version of Ektron implement the Solr search offering.

Why Solr?


Some webmasters may be reluctant to implement Solr, because it is an Apache product that has configured to run in Windows, rather than a Microsoft product. Many companies prefer to use software that remains within the Microsoft family of products, so implementing a non-Microsoft product can cause some apprehension. However, Solr differentiates itself from Microsoft’s Search Server in the following ways:

  • It is really easy to install (and by easy, I mean in minutes).
  • Sites are indexed hundreds of times faster with Solr than with MS Search Server.
  • Sharepoint does not need to be installed in order for Solr to function.
  • Faceted search is supported natively.
  • The software is free.
  • The hardware requirements are substantially less for Solr than for MS Search Server.
  • Many other additional features are included.

Upgrading your CMS software is a complicated process, and implementing search is just one of the aspects that will need to be considered when performing an Ektron upgrade. In fact, if you are planning an upgrade, this is a good opportunity to consider your entire web strategy to make sure you are getting the best ROI for your website. If you’re ready to take advantage of all that the web has to offer, please contact us to speak to a CMS expert, or feel free to share any questions you might have about CMS upgrades or search options in the comments below.