Lucid Imagination Launches, With Support for Lucene and Solr Search

by Ostatic Staff - Jan. 26, 2009

Lucid Imagination, a Massachussetts-based startup focused on support and services for open source search technologies Apache Lucene and Solr, has announced that it has officially launched. The company was one of only a tiny handful of open source companies to obtain significant venture capital funding in the fourth quarter of last year.  The company collected $6 million from a $7.5 million Series A funding round led by Granite Ventures and Walden International. It will focus on both developers and and organizations using Lucene and Solr.

The Lucene search library ranks amongst the top 5 Apache projects, installed at over 4,000 global companies. Although OStatic is primarily Drupal-based, our site's search is based on Lucene. According to Lucid Imagination officials, the Solr search server, which transforms the Lucene search library into a ready-to-use search platform for building applications, is the fastest growing Lucene sub-project.

Based on my own personal experience with search services built into several web sites and blogs I've written for, Lucene is a very powerful and accurate search tool. Frequently, blogs in particular have very poor search functionality, but Lucene is a dependable free and open source alternative to expensive proprietary alternatives. The search and discovery market is growing at 28 percent per year, with 2007 revenue of $1.8 billion according to market research from IDC.

Lucid's business model is roughly comparable to Red Hat's very successful model, in that it centers on support and services for free, open source software. I'm also reminded of Acquia which offers a commercially supported version of the Drupal content management system and sells service and support for it. (Disclosure: Acquia is an OStatic sponsor.)

The company's team includes CEO Eric Gries, previously with XACCT Software and Compuware, and CTO Marc Krellenstein, formerly with Elsevier and Northern Light Technology. There are also technical leads who are key committers to Lucene and Solr.

"Lucene has achieved its current popularity and level of adoption because it is open source and because of the strengths of the technology," said Doug Cutting, creator of Lucene as well as the Hadoop clustering search technology underlying Yahoo and many other sites. "These strengths include its flexibility, out-of-the-box relevancy ranking, query performance and scalability. Both Lucene and Solr are quite robust and ready for the enterprise, but can benefit from what a commercial company can bring to bear, including commercial-grade support and services to make the software easier to deploy and maintain."

Lucid Imagination is offering certified distributions of Lucene and Solr, and a 30-day "Get Started Free" offer for support and services. It will also offer value-added tools, consulting, training, and more. Based on our very positive experience with Lucene here at OStatic, I'm inclined to think Lucid Imagination has a good shot at success. As is true for Acquia, Red Hat and other companies focusing on support for open source software, evangelism and making a difference for enterprises will have to top the priority list. It is good to see more top-flight open source projects getting commercial support, and hopefully venture funding for these types of efforts will resume an upswing.