In this post, I look at the difference between Enterprise Search & Federated Search …
In Enterprise Search, content is indexed locally.
That is, the content is made available to the search engine, and the metadata, and if possible, the content itself, is indexed and stored in a database.
Federated Search utilises the search results that are provided by an “external” system. (“External” refers to another document management system or search application.)
Enterprise Search & Federated Search – Different Indexing Methods
There are a few interesting things about the different indexing methods.
In Enterprise Search, the documents are available by the indexer, all the metadata and content can be crawled and indexed.
With a Federated Search, the results are what was returned from the external system. This relies on the external system’s indexing capabilities.
On the other hand, to access, and index documents locally (in an Enterprise Search) usually requires loading the document to a locally accessible location. To do this can chew up a lot of bandwidth. Then there is the corresponding CPU utilization to do the actual indexing. And to keep the index up-to-date, further crawls/indexing need to be performed regularly. If the documents are relatively “close” (within the same subnet) then this should not be too much of a problem.
However, when the documents are located in, or indexed by, remote (outside the firewall) systems, a federated search has certain benefits. All that is being transferred is the query and the results that match that query. The indexing process is being handled by the remote system. And this includes the regular indexing required to keep the index up-to-date.
Should you use Federated Search, or Enterprise Search
So the decision whether to use Federated Search or Enterprise Search, depends on:
- the resources available (how much grunt does your indexing server have?),
- the availability of the content that needs to be indexed (can the indexer access the content directly)
- the bandwidth available
- the amount of confidence that the search results returned contain 100% of the content that meets the search criteria. (Are you happy with the results that the remote system provides).
Want to learn more?
Below is a selection of resources that I personally feel are relevant to this blog post, and will allow you to get more in-depth knowledge. I do earn a commission if you purchase any of these, and for that I am grateful. Thank you. (Important Disclosure)