The lines between a database and a search engine aren’t always clear. For the average user, this may not be something they ever consider, but some clarity is beneficial for any business trying to solve any search challenges. Here’s a quick rundown on the differences between a database and a search engine.
What is a Database?
In short, a database is a collection of information that is organized and stored to be accessed for later use. As an example, a manual version of a database would be like a rolodex with specific fields of information. In this scenario, information is recorded on sheets of paper, possibly organized in folders, and stored in a single place where people with access can go and retrieve that information when necessary.
An electronic database operates largely the same way, except all this data is structured to ease of organization and information retrieval. This database is accessed and managed by specific users through a database management system (DBMS). Users with access can then add, update, find, sort, or retrieve data as needed.
What is a Search Engine?
If a database is like a rolodex, then search engines are more like the index of a book—except that it’s a collection of every index for every book you have. Databases and search engines are both capable of search for data and handling queries. Each technology relies on different paradigms to organize and retrieve information. While databases can store and retrieve a vast amount of structured data, search engines can search unstructured text.
Search engines vary greatly in scope. If you ask the average person about search engines, he or she will think of Google and Bing as examples. However, search engines also apply smaller-scale full-text search software, such as those for online publishing, interactive catalogs, classified advertising, digital asset management, intelligence and web searching.
Search engine software makes the process of retrieving relevant information much easier by allowing users to search for information with natural language text. The results will then be organized by relevance, which can include text documents, geographic information, images, video, audio, and other payload data.
Why Not Have Both?
While databases and search engines don’t “marry” easily, there is technology available that offers a true marriage of the two. Thunderstone’s search engine software and search appliances give users the benefits of both thanks to Texis, the core technology for all Thunderstone products.
Texis is the first search engine software available with the fully-integrated structure of an SQL relational database (RDBMS) that intelligently queries and manages databases. This is due to Thunderstone’s Metamorph, a concept-based natural language search engine that uses advanced lexical set logic to intelligently understand search queries and retrieve relevant responses.
Whether your business needs a solution for complex information retrieval challenges or a hosted search appliance, Thunderstone can help. Request a demo for one on Thunderstone’s search engine software today or contact us to talk to a Thunderstone expert about how Texis technology can be a solution for your search challenges.