REVIEWER: Paul Allen, founder and CEO of
BACKGROUND: FamilyLink provides the platform for the family social experience. Family members can create family-generated content, preserve interactions, add historical content and communicate across a number of mediums. FamilyLink also provides valuable historical family content. Families can search more than 1.6 billion names to find, tag and integrate ancestors.

PLATFORMS: The Perfect Search engine is running on a 16GB Windows 2003 Server.

PROBLEM SOLVED: As one of the founders of, I knew the challenge I was facing in launching World Vital Records, a division of FamilyLink, is a genealogy service that was rapidly acquiring hundreds of millions of genealogical records. The question was: How could I provide subsecond search to my customers without building the costly and massive infrastructure that Ancestry had built to support the query load from customers? I knew I had the following choices: build my own proprietary search engine as Ancestry had done (too time and resource-consuming), buy a solution from an enterprise search vendor (too expensive because of the size of our data), or build my own search platform using open source solutions such as Lucene. We decided to use Lucene, a free, open source search engine, as our initial search platform, providing exact and near-exact search. Lucene worked great with low traffic and the initial small data sets, but as the data and the traffic grew, the Lucene platform started to have its own performance and financial costs. To continue to grow with Lucene, we would need to continue to add servers to handle additional data and additional queries. We were aggressively adding genealogical data, with plans to add 100 percent more records to the 800 million existing records. About this time, we accepted a proposal from Perfect Search Corporation to put their new search engine in a parallel system. The requirements were to replace Lucene, to match existing business rules, to incorporate exact and near-exact search, to match or improve results, to perform on fewer servers and to provide query results back to World Vital Records in the same format as expected from Lucene.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Perfect Search was able to reduce the server requirement of World Vital Records from seven servers to one server, while handling a 100 percent growth in data. Today, more than 1.6 billion records exist on one server, with an additional server for redundancy. The same 40GB of data that took more than 880 hours to index on Lucene is now indexed in approximately 36 hours by Perfect Search. Wait times were reduced so query response times were subsecond, even with an increase of traffic and data size. CPU utilization seldom exceeds 10 percent at peak query loads. We were able to keep our existing business rules and user interfaces as Perfect Search was able to easily drop in as a Lucene replacement.

STRENGTHS: There are three main strengths of the Perfect Search engine. The first is scalability – we were able to reduce our query servers from seven down to one, while doubling the amount of data. The second is performance – we were able to accelerate query performance from multiple seconds per query to subsecond query speeds. The third is easy drop-in replacement of Lucene.

WEAKNESSES: The main weakness is incomplete documentation. As we were an early user of the technology, we relied upon Perfect Search for some tasks at first, but over time, those tasks have been in process of transferring over to us with training and documentation.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Perfect Search offered the ability to scale and rapid query speed without the high cost of other systems.

DELIVERABLES:    We are able to access query logs to determine query frequency, query speeds and errors.

VENDOR SUPPORT: We have been able to closelywork with Perfect Search, in both the pre- and post-implementation. The engine has been very stable, with no downtime since installation.

DOCUMENTATION: This is where Perfect Search could improve. There are still some holes in their documentation.

Perfect Search Appliance
Perfect Search Corporation
1145 S 800 E Suite 325
Orem, UT 84097
(801) 437-1100

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