Community Blog Elasticsearch vs OpenSearch: A Technical Guide for Choosing Your Open Source Search Platform

Elasticsearch vs OpenSearch: A Technical Guide for Choosing Your Open Source Search Platform

Discover the evolutionary journey of Elasticsearch and OpenSearch, two of the most prominent open-source search engines.


Since its release under the Apache 2.0 open-source license in 2010, Elasticsearch has rapidly emerged as the top choice for enterprise search engines worldwide. Often deployed with Logstash and Kibana, collectively known as the Elastic Stack, it enables a myriad of log analysis use cases such as application observability, security log analysis, and user behavior understanding.

In 2015, Amazon Web Services launched Amazon Elasticsearch Service (Amazon ES) using the open-source license—a managed service that let AWS customers start scalable Elasticsearch clusters, attach data sources to cluster endpoints, and perform load, process, analysis, or visualization operations in the cloud.

Despite its popularity, dispute arose with Elastic NV opposing Amazon's use of its product and trademarks, which culminated in a trademark infringement and false advertising lawsuit in 2019 against the tech giant.

The lawsuit settled in 2021, leading to two significant developments:

  • In January 2021, Elastic NV announced that starting with version 7.11, Elasticsearch would be licensed under the Server Side Public License (SSPL) and the Elastic License, preventing companies from offering Elasticsearch services without partnering directly with Elastic.
  • By April 2021, Amazon introduced a new open-source search engine project by forking Elasticsearch's last open-source version (7.10.2). Due to trademark limitations, the new project was named OpenSearch. Amazon also offers this as a cloud service called "Amazon OpenSearch Service."

This article will dive deeper into how these search solutions have evolved and diverged in the past three years, helping you decide which is better suited for your enterprise search applications.

version: '3'
    image: docker.elastic.co/elasticsearch/elasticsearch:7.10.2
      - discovery.type=single-node
      - "9200:9200"

Comparing Elasticsearch and OpenSearch

Common Ground

OpenSearch started as an advanced fork of Elasticsearch, meaning the core functionalities such as search, analytics, and dashboards are the same for both applications. This foundation makes them both suitable for website search, enterprise search, and log analytics use cases.

Differences to Consider

License Changes

Elasticsearch was available under the Apache 2.0 license until its switch to SSPL and Elastic licensing. The SSPL differs from conventional open-source licenses by requiring that anyone offering the licensed software as a service must make the entire source code available.

Community Contributions

Both Elasticsearch and OpenSearch maintain active and loyal communities. This support indicates neither will fall behind in functionalities or become unsupported anytime soon. Elastic's community is mature, whereas OpenSearch's forum is still growing.

Feature Sets

OpenSearch, initially forked from Elasticsearch 7.10.2, had to strip out any features incompatible with the Apache 2.0 license, which included disabling paid features and removing the X-Pack codebase.

Security Aspects

While both Elasticsearch and OpenSearch offer substantial security features, OpenSearch includes many of these features by default, where some are only accessible to paying Elasticsearch customers.

Performance Metrics

Elastic has positioned Elasticsearch as having superior performance metrics across key indicators, highlighting faster text querying and sorting capabilities alongside better storage efficiency.

Pricing Variance

Though both Elasticsearch and OpenSearch can be self-managed and downloaded for free, hosting and managing these platforms come at the cost of your resources. Both can also be utilized via managed services like Alibaba Cloud Elasticsearch, often with added benefits and easier management.

Code Example: Installing OpenSearch Dashboards

docker pull opensearchproject/opensearch-dashboards:1.0.0
docker run -p 5601:5601 opensearchproject/opensearch-dashboards:1.0.0

Exploring Alibaba Cloud Elasticsearch

Alibaba Cloud provides a robust Elasticsearch service, which you can leverage for your search and analytics needs. Their service simplifies the process of setting up, managing, and scaling Elasticsearch instances.

To explore this further, visit the Alibaba Cloud Elasticsearch product page

Ready to start your journey with Elasticsearch on Alibaba Cloud? Explore our tailored Cloud solutions and services to take the first step towards transforming your data into a visual masterpiece.Please [Click here], Embark on Your 30-Day Free Trial.



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