December 18, 2023

Amazon OpenSearch: A Gamechanger in the World of Search Technology

In the ever-evolving world of technology, search engines play a pivotal role in data retrieval and analysis. Amazon OpenSearch, the successor to the Amazon Elasticsearch Service, has emerged as a game-changer in the realm of search technology. This guide delves into the intricacies of Amazon OpenSearch, its workings, benefits, and why it’s becoming the preferred choice for many businesses.

Amazon OpenSearch Service is an open-source, distributed search and analytics suite based on Elasticsearch, a popular search engine built on Apache Lucene. Elasticsearch is renowned for its capabilities in log analytics, full-text search, security intelligence, business analytics, and operational intelligence use cases. With the advent of OpenSearch, users can now perform log analytics interactively, real-time application monitoring, website search, performance metric analysis, and much more.

Amazon Opensearch Diagram
Amazon OpenSearch Diagram

The history of OpenSearch dates back to its origin as a fork of the Elasticsearch and Kibana projects. Elasticsearch, a highly popular search and analytics engine, was initially developed by Elastic N.V. to provide efficient and flexible search capabilities. However, concerns arose within the open-source community about the licensing changes and governance of Elasticsearch.

In response, the OpenSearch project was born, aiming to provide an open and community-driven alternative, maintaining the core functionalities of Elasticsearch while adhering to the Apache 2.0 license. This license ensured the software remained accessible, modifiable, and distributable by anyone. As the project gained traction, Amazon Web Services (AWS) became involved in its development, launching the Amazon OpenSearch Service, further boosting OpenSearch’s adoption.

How Does It Work?

Amazon OpenSearch Service simplifies the process of performing interactive log analytics, real-time application monitoring, and website search. Derived from Elasticsearch, it offers the latest versions of OpenSearch, supporting multiple versions of Elasticsearch. The service currently serves tens of thousands of active customers, managing hundreds of thousands of clusters that process hundreds of trillions of requests per month.

Deployment and Monitoring

Creating an OpenSearch cluster is straightforward. Users can utilize the AWS Management Console, API, or AWS CLI to specify the number of instances, instance types, and storage options. One standout feature is the ability to perform in-place upgrades without any downtime. The service also provides built-in monitoring and alerting with automatic notifications. Alerts can be configured using Kibana or OpenSearch Dashboards and the REST API. These notifications can be dispatched via custom webhooks, Slack, Amazon SNS, and Amazon Chime.

With Amazon OpenSearch Service, businesses can focus on analysis rather than spending time managing their deployment. Adjustments to deployment configurations are seamless, harnessing the power of open-source search.


Amazon OpenSearch Service offers encryption of data at rest using AES-256 and AWS KMS for storage and management of encryption keys. It also encrypts node-to-node communications using TLS 1.2. Additionally, the service supports various access policies, including resource-based, identity-based, and IP-based policies. Fine-grained access control further enhances security.


Amazon OpenSearch Service delivers log and trace analytics solutions on data at scale, allowing for the development of interactive queries and visualising results with high adaptability and speed.


The service integrates fast, scalable full-text search capabilities and manages growing analytics costs for hot, UltraWarm, and cold tiers. All features are included without any upsell, ensuring businesses get value for their money.

The Amazon OpenSearch Service significantly simplifies the deployment, management, and scaling of OpenSearch clusters. Here’s how the service simplifies the process:

  1. Managed Infrastructure: AWS manages the underlying infrastructure, including hardware provisioning, patching, and scaling.
  2. Easy Deployment: Setting up an OpenSearch cluster becomes straightforward through the AWS Management Console.
  3. Automated Upgrades: The service handles software updates and patches.
  4. Scaling Made Simple: Adjust the number of nodes in your cluster to match the demands of your application.
  5. Integration with AWS Services: Seamless integration with other AWS offerings.
  6. High Availability: Features like automated backups, data replication, and multi-availability Zone deployments ensure high availability.
  7. Security: Encryption at rest and in transit, access control through IAM, and integration with Amazon VPC for network isolation.
  8. Integrated Backup and Restore: Automated backups managed by the service.
  9. Monitoring and Insights: Integration with Amazon CloudWatch provides detailed monitoring and performance metrics.
  10. Pay-as-You-Go Pricing: Eliminates upfront costs and aligns costs with actual usage.

Operational Patterns

Amazon OpenSearch Service is not just about search and analytics; it’s about understanding and making sense of vast amounts of data. This is achieved through various operational patterns:

Search-Backed Applications

Amazon OpenSearch Service can be integrated into applications to provide search functionality. This involves users sending queries, which are processed and enriched by various AWS services, such as Amazon SageMaker for machine learning models and Amazon RDS for user preferences. The enriched queries are then sent to Amazon OpenSearch Service, which retrieves the relevant results.

Streaming Data Analytics

Streaming data, continuously generated from numerous sources, can be a challenge to manage and analyze. Amazon OpenSearch Service, with its native integrations with services like Amazon S3, Amazon Kinesis Data Firehose, and Amazon CloudWatch, can handle this data efficiently. This capability is particularly useful for centralized log analytics, where logs from various applications and devices are centralized for a unified view. This helps in predictive insights and operational analytics on log data.


As applications become more complex, understanding their behaviour becomes crucial. Observability tools provide insights into these systems, helping developers understand and rectify potential issues. Amazon OpenSearch Service offers observability features that analyze metrics, logs, and traces, helping DevOps and site reliability engineers understand and manage their applications better.

Trace Analytics with OpenTelemetry

This feature allows developers to analyze traces alongside log data, streamlining the process of identifying and fixing performance problems in distributed applications.

Log Analytics with Open Source

Many companies prefer open-source solutions for log analytics due to perceived benefits in cost, security, and stability. Amazon OpenSearch Service supports this by enabling the analysis of logs from various applications and infrastructure.

Security Analytics

Security is paramount, and Amazon OpenSearch Service serves as a Security Information Event Management (SIEM) solution. It centralizes and analyzes logs from various applications and systems, facilitating real-time threat detection and incident management.

Applications and Use Cases

Amazon OpenSearch Service is versatile and caters to a wide range of applications:

  • Website Search: Enhance user experience by providing fast and relevant search results on websites.
  • Application Search: Integrate search functionality into database-backed applications for improved customer experiences.
  • Document Repository Search: Quickly search across vast repositories of documents, optimizing time and resources.
  • Centralized Log Analytics: Centralize logs from various sources for a unified view, aiding in predictive insights and operational analytics.
  • Observability and APM: Monitor and understand the behaviour of complex systems, ensuring smooth operations and quick issue resolution.

Integration with AWS Ecosystem

Amazon OpenSearch Service is not just a standalone service but is deeply integrated into the AWS ecosystem, providing users with a seamless experience across various AWS services.

VPC Integration

OpenSearch Service domains can be launched within an Amazon VPC, providing an additional layer of security. This logical isolation ensures that domains within a VPC are shielded from public access, requiring a VPN or proxy for connectivity. It’s worth noting that once a domain is placed within a VPC, it cannot be moved to a public endpoint and vice versa. Access to the default installation of OpenSearch Dashboards for a domain within a VPC mandates that users have access to the VPC.

The ELK Stack and OpenSearch

The ELK stack, an acronym for Elasticsearch, Logstash, and Kibana, is a popular combination of projects that aggregate logs from various systems and applications, enabling analysis and visualization. This stack is instrumental in visualizing application and infrastructure monitoring data, troubleshooting, security analytics, and more. Amazon OpenSearch Service, being derived from Elasticsearch, naturally supports the functionalities offered by the ELK stack, enhancing its capabilities.

Enhanced Security Features

Security is paramount in today’s digital age. Amazon OpenSearch Service ensures data encryption both at rest, using AES-256 and AWS KMS, and in transit with TLS 1.2. Node-to-node encryption, although optional, once enabled, provides an added layer of security. The service supports various access policies, including resource-based, identity-based, and IP-based policies. Fine-grained access control further refines the security measures, offering role-based access control, security at different data levels, and HTTP basic authentication for both OpenSearch and OpenSearch Dashboards. Integration with SAML and Amazon Cognito further bolsters authentication capabilities.

Open Source Integration

OpenSearch integrates seamlessly with various open-source tools, including Logstash, OpenTelemetry, and Elasticsearch APIs. This ensures that businesses can leverage the power of open-source solutions while benefiting from the managed services provided by AWS.

Cost-Effective Solutions

Amazon OpenSearch Service is designed with cost-conscious businesses in mind. It offers scalable full-text search capabilities and manages analytics costs across different data tiers, including hot, UltraWarm, and cold. The service ensures that all features are available without any hidden costs, providing businesses with a transparent and value-for-money solution.

In essence, Amazon OpenSearch Service’s integration with the broader AWS ecosystem, its commitment to security, and its alignment with open-source tools make it a formidable solution for businesses looking to harness the power of search and analytics.


In conclusion, Amazon OpenSearch Service is revolutionizing the way businesses handle search and analytics. Its versatility, combined with the robust infrastructure of AWS, makes it a preferred choice for businesses looking to derive meaningful insights from their data. As the world of technology continues to evolve, tools like Amazon OpenSearch Service will play a pivotal role in shaping the future of data analysis and retrieval.

Ready to make the most of Amazon OpenSearch?
Book a free consultation with one of our team members to find out more about how you can make the most of Amazon OpenSearch and save on your AWS bill!

Other AWS Guides

Get the latest articles and news about AWS