A couple days ago, Acquia moved Acquia Search out of beta and made it available commercially available through their Acquia Network service. Acquia Search is a hosted search service based on the Software as a Service (SaaS) model. The technology supporting Acquia Search is based on the the Open Source Lucene and Solr distributions from the Apache project. While a free search module is already available in Drupal, as well as Acquia Drupal, Acquia Search is significantly different and geared toward the enterprise. Smaller but high traffic websites would also benefit from Acquia Search.
CMS Report has been beta testing Acquia Search for the past four months and we've had nothing but a positive experience with the service. In fact I feel as a beta tester I somehow didn't do my job since I didn't have any issues to report to Acquia. However, Acquia did acquire various usage statistics, email exchanges, and surveys from us that they still benefited from CMSReport.com's participation in the beta program. Since I know only enough about Drupal to be dangerous, if I can't break it then Acquia must be on the right track with this product.
During the beta test there was a lot of discussion on the pricing model for Acquia Search. In Dries Buytaert's announcement that Acquia Search was available commercially, he blogged about the cost of Acquia Search.
Acquia Search is included for no additional cost in every Acquia Network subscription. Basic and Professional subscribers have one "search slice" and Enterprise subscribers have five "search slices". A slice includes the processing power to index your site, to do index updates, to store your index, and to process your site visitors' search queries. Each slice includes 10MB of indexing space - enough for a site with between 1,000 and 2,000 nodes. Customers who exceed the level included with their subscription may purchase additional slices. A ten-slice extension package costs an additional $1,000/year, and will cover an additional 10,000 - 20,000 nodes in an index of 100MB.
For my personal blog, which has about 900 nodes at the time of this writing, a Basic Acquia Network subscription ($349 USD/year) would give me all the benefits of Acquia Search, plus all the other Acquia Network services.
There is somewhat an interesting thread of comments in Dries' post regarding whether the cost for Acquia Search is too high or too low. As I commented on Dries' blog, it all comes down to cost analysis for enterprises looking for a better customer service via search. Last March I summarized how enterprise environments view product such as Acquia Search within their infrastructure.
I know a number of companies that like what they see in Drupal but are reluctant to invest more resources into their Intranet infrastructure. Acquia Search could very well be the solution enterprises have been seeking without all the messy evaluation and entry level costs. It just doesn't make financial sense for a company needing the features provided by Apache Solr for their Drupal site to not consider Acquia's Search before providing that same products/service in-house. Acquia is a quicker and cheaper path to introducing Apache Solr services in the enterprise. This is why I think Acquia has a winner with Acquia Search as it should entice more Drupal and potential Drupal users to join the Acquia Network.
While some people may be focused on the price, I really think the true story here is the features and benefits Acquia Search can provide to the enterprise. Dries has a couple good posts, of course, on what he sees as the benefits of Acquia Search for site visitors and site administrators. I'm going to hold off any further discussion on the pros and cons of going with Acquia for Drupal support. In a couple months I plan to do a full review of my year using Acquia Drupal, Acquia Search, and Acquia Network here at CMSReport.com.