The Challenge

Create a flexible, easy-to-use, real-time search engine for SoundCloud's 30,000,000 users

The Solution

Use Elasticsearch to intelligently search and deliver content to tens of millions

Case study highlights

Create an amazing user experience

  • Use search as navigation
  • Update your searches immediately with user contributed content
  • Roll out new features quickly and often automatically

Develop and scale easily

  • Use high velocity when working on schema-affecting bugs and features, so a complete reindex should take on the order of an hour
  • Scale to the next order of magnitude and beyond with minimum effort
  • Maintain access through APIs that you design and control

"The new infrastructure has been an unqualified success. Our velocity is through the roof, we have a clear path for orders-magnitude-growth, and we have a stable platform for a long time to come."

Alexander Gross, VP of Engineering

Powerful and Intelligent Search Is Key to Enhanced Customer Experience

Providing the best experience for customers to view, search and explore relevant content in a timely and meaningful manner is paramount for SoundCloud. As the world's leading social sound platform, SoundCloud lets anyone create, record, promote and share their sounds on the web in a simple, accessible and feature-rich way. SoundCloud enables sound creators to instantly record or upload original audio content, embed sound across websites and blogs, share publicly and privately, receive detailed analytics, plus get feedback from the community directly onto the waveform. Recently, SoundCloud set out to redesign their search infrastructure to meet growing customer demands and to keep pace with the massive growth in their data.

Redesigning the Search Infrastructure to Optimize Customer Experience

Providing the best experience for customers to view, search and explore relevant content in a timely and meaningful manner is paramount for SoundCloud. As the world's leading social sound platform, SoundCloud lets anyone create, record, promote and share their sounds on the web in a simple, accessible and feature-rich way. SoundCloud enables sound creators to instantly record or upload original audio content, embed sound across websites and blogs, share publicly and privately, receive detailed analytics, plus get feedback from the community directly onto the waveform. Recently, SoundCloud set out to redesign their search infrastructure to meet growing customer demands and to keep pace with the massive growth in their data.

SoundCloud's benefits using Elasticsearch

Faster time to search improves user experience

Feedback from on time-to-searchability has been very positive. Newly posted sounds are discoverable in about three seconds rather than several days with Solr.

Streamlined node maintenance

No onerous, manual work is involved in bootstrapping or maintaining nodes – everything is set up with Elasticsearch's REST API and index definitions are specified in flat JSON files.

Easier to add new functionality

Elasticsearch has greatly expedited the implementation and configuration of new features and functionality.

Improved insights help decision making

A single dashboard with all relevant metrics helps SoundCloud to know how search is performing, both in terms of load and search quality.

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Training Support

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