How to integrate a company-wide search engine into a customers‘ ecosystem

Employees are becoming increasingly frustrated because they spend too much time searching for relevant information. At Swisscom, we help enterprises make their knowledge and data accessible within the organization.

Making knowledge accessible again

In today’s business world, the amount of data is growing exponentially every year and company data is saved in dozens of different internal and external systems. As a result, it gets increasingly difficult to find relevant information quickly. This leads to decreased productivity and frustrated employees because they spend up to 20% of their working time searching for information (McKinsey, 2012).

One powerful solution to this problem is the utilization of a company-wide search engine, also called “Enterprise Search” which is connected to all relevant systems and data storages and consolidates all loose threads into one central search index. This search index then powers an intuitive end-user facing frontend so that employees can easily search and filter for relevant information across the whole company.

At Swisscom, we offer such an “Enterprise Search” solution since early 2018 in cooperation with the Swiss search company Hulbee AG (more information can be found here).

Data is everywhere

One challenge when it comes to integrating such a powerful software solution into the ecosystem of the customer is the increased decentralization of infrastructure. Most of our customers already work in a hybrid setup where they use both on-premise infrastructure and cloud offerings, the latter potentially provided by several vendors (e.g. Swisscom Cloud & Global Public Cloud such as AWS or MS Azure). Still, employees need to centrally access relevant data which is stored in different systems (like fileserver, Exchange, Sharepoint or cloud storage solutions) independently of where they are hosted.

Flexible deployment is key

Therefore, for our offering it is important that the Enterprise Search software solution can be deployed everywhere, i.e. on-premise and in the preferred cloud solution of the customer, as well as securely connected to data storages outside of its deployment zone.

Proof-of-Concept on a Global Public Cloud

Our team wanted to ensure this by conducting a proof-of-concept where the Enterprise Search solution is deployed on a Global Public Cloud, both utilizing all the advantages of such a flexible cloud platform and being able to connect to on-premise data storages. We decided to run this project on AWS, also because it offers a standard Elastic Search service, which is the underlying indexing service used by our Enterprise Search solution.

Enterprise Search on AWS

The application is installed on a AWS EC2 Instance in a private and secured network, backed by an Elastic Search Cluster managed by AWS.The Enterprise Search connection to the on-prem Datacenter is encrypted with a VPN Tunnel. To enable outgoing traffic to the Internet for indexing public websites we use the AWS NAT Instance in a public subnet.

For the external access to the search website of Enterprise Search we have an AWS Application Load Balancer installed. The Application Load Balancer uses a SSL Certificate generated by the AWS Certificate Manager.

To manage the DNS for the Solution, we have a Subdomain delegated to Route53.

The Elastic Search Instance is able to Access S3 Buckets in the same region for indexing thru an S3 Gateway. For indexing buckets in other regions, the internet connection thru NAT Gateway is used.

All components (EC2 Instance, ElasticSearch Cluster and Application Load Balancer) are secured with AWS Security Groups (AWS virtual firewall).

This setup enables a secure and scalable installation of Enterprise Search. All data in transit is encrypted. If requested, we can also encrypt the data at rest using encrypted EBS Volumes for the EC2 Instance and the Elastic Search Cluster.

Big picture:

Outlook

After successfully finishing this Proof-of-Concept, we will not only add these now proven capabilities to our offering and but also pro-actively address the potential with prospects and new customers.

 Do you want to learn more about how we support companies with our Enterprise Search or Global Public Cloud portfolio and services? Feel free to contact me or my colleagues anytime at coc.aws@swisscom.com or visit swisscom.ch/aws.