Elastic Bounces and Rolls Away from Other Search Vendors

October 6, 2018

Please, do not confuse what Bing and Google deliver as “search” with the type of information access system which is available from Elastic. The founder of Compass Search (remember that?) has emerged as the big dog in the information access world. At a time when direct competitors like Attivio, Coveo, and Funnelback are working overtime to become something other than information access providers, Elastic and its Elasticsearch ecosystem have pulled off a digital kudzu play.

The evidence is not the raucous Elastic developer conferences. The proof is not the fact that most policeware vendors use Elastic as the plumbing for their systems. The hard facts are dollars.

I learned that Elastic pulled off its IPO and closed up 94.4 percent. Talk about happy investors. Those believers in the Shay Bannon approach must be turning cartwheels. For more financial insights, navigate to “Search Company Elastic Nearly Doubles on First Trading Day.” The write up states:

The debut rally is all the more pronounced because it comes on a down day for the broader market, particularly the tech sector.

Elastic, it seems, represents a bright spot.

Congrats to Mr. Bannon and the Elastic team.

There are some outfits likely to take a hard look at their “search” business. Among them will be the vendors of proprietary search systems like the companies I mentioned above. Most of these outfits continue to find a way to make their investors happy. Attivio bounces between business intelligence and search. Coveo roves from search to customer support. Funnelback, well, Funnelback chugs along because one of their management team told me that the company is not open source. I wonder if that wizard wishes it were playing open source canasta.

The more interesting company to consider in the context of the Elastic solid triple in the search big leagues is LucidWorks. This company played its open source card. The company flipped CEOs, changed its focus, and emulated the polymorphic approach to search that the proprietary vendors followed. LucidWorks then found itself facing the Amazon search system staffed helpfully with a LucidWorks’ veteran or two. LucidWorks has consumed more than $100 million in investment capital, pushed founder Marc Krellenstein down the memory hole, and watched as the Elastic outfit blasted past LucidWorks and into the lushness of the IPO. Both companies had similar business models. Both companies leveraged the open source development community. Both companies followed similar marketing scripts.

But there was a difference.

Shay Bannon provided vision and he figured out that he needed a strong supporting cast. The result is that Elastic moved forward, added capabilities, made prudent decisions about supplemental modules, and offered reasonable for fee option to those who tried out the open source version of the search system and then moved to pay for service and other goodies available from Elastic.

The result?

The future for LucidWorks now looks a bit different. The company has to find a way to pay back its investors. The firm’s Elastic like business model may have to be reevaluated. Heck, the product line up may be require a refurbishing comparable to those performed on automobile programs which take an interesting vehicle and turn it into a winner.

Unfortunately fixing up search vendors is not as easy to do in real life. A TV show has the benefit of post production and maybe some color and sound experts to spiff up the automobile.

Image result for bitchin rides

Competitors like LucidWorks will have to spiff up their 1956 automobiles in order to catch customers’ eyes as Elastic rolls rapidly into the future.

Search doesn’t work that way.

The question becomes, “What will LucidWorks do?”

Even those of us in Harrod’s Creek know what Elastic will do. The company will chug along and become the go to way to provide utility search, log analysis, and other basic functions to outfits which appear to be independent high tech search wizards.

Stephen E Arnold, October 6, 2018


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