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Data & Intelligence

GSA Replacement Contenders Have Ignored This Key Use Case

When Google announced the end of the Google Search Appliance (GSA), the other major players in the space rapidly put together their messaging on why their product was the perfect replacement for the GSA. They espoused their cognitive search, machine learning, 360-degree view UIs, etc.

The competitive landscape has focused on the large enterprise search customers indexing dozens of information sources with complex security models and millions of documents.  They have their “why me” pitches down to an art. They focus on how much more relevant the results will be due to their sophisticated analytics and how the owners of search will have beautiful dashboards showing query response times, relevancy success, the effectiveness of related searches helping users find what they want, all available with one click. But, I have been on countless demos with every vendor in the space hoping to grab their share of the GSA replacement pie, and failed to see any of them address one of largest use cases of the GSA install base – low maintenance public website search at a price point comparable with the GSA.

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The reality is over 70% of the GSA install base has the smallest available license allowing for a 500K document index.  And that index was almost always massively underutilized.  Why? Over 50% of the customers use their GSAs as a public website search tool, which is traditionally a low index/high query volume use case. So why did these customers opt for the GSA in the first place?

  1. Low ongoing maintenance: Marketing departments owned the solution. IT departments loved it, they could point the GSA to crawl all corporate web domains, set-up OOTB functionality similar to search results on and the Google algorithms kicked in and did the rest. Marketing loved it because they were not dependent on IT. They could do simple things such as add synonyms and key matches themselves.  It was a win-win for everyone.
  2. Costs: Most customers went for the Prod, Hot Back-up, Development configuration which cost approximately $44K per annum, based on a 3-year deal. The GSA was a great value.
  3. Functionality: Google was smart. They always ensured GSA OOTB functionality pretty much mirrored the look and feel of results on The comment we always hear from customers when evaluating a public website search tool is that they want search results to look like

It is this segment of the GSA customer base that is struggling most finding a next generation replacement.  The top tier of potential replacement platforms are too feature-rich and cost prohibitive for those looking for a traditional website search similar to  At the other end of the spectrum, the open source options require IT resources to provide ongoing tuning to keep the relevancy fresh, thus taking day to day administration away from the marketing department.

The Search team at Perficient has heard this feedback from numerous customers. The gap in the market is clear, and based on conversations we have had with other search partners, none of them has a like for like replacement in their roadmap. With this in mind, we set out to develop a viable alternative for our customers needing a replacement.  With the blessing of Google, Perficient has developed Nero, a search solution leveraging the GSA connector framework built on Elasticsearch and other open source software. Nero is available as both an on-prem and cloud solution (Google Cloud, of course). The Admin panel has been developed with the business owner in mind, allowing for minimal support from corporate IT.  Pricing is based on an annual subscription, including support for approximately the same price as the GSA.

Still trying to find your GSA replacement for public website search? Perficient will be hosting a public webinar on Feb 20th at 1:00 CST that will include a demo of Nero. To register, please complete the form below or visit

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