Open Source at Bloomberg: Expanding Our Engagement with Solr

At Bloomberg “open source” is not just a buzzword or phrase – we are actively engaged with and contributing to the community every day.  One of our biggest community engagements is with Apache Solr. Recently Dennis Gove from our R&D team joined Bloomberg colleagues Christine Poerschke and Ramkumar Aiyengar in being named a Solr committer. To share more about our work with Solr, and what it means to be a Solr committer we recently sat down with Adam Wolf, one of the key leaders of our R&D team.

1. What is your current role at Bloomberg?
I am currently the head of the foundational applications engineering team. Our team of 500 fantastic engineers builds Bloomberg’s core cross-asset class applications and systems that help our clients communicate, collaborate and monitor the markets and the news.We also build Bloomberg’s mobile platform, its integration with Microsoft Office, and its search and data platforms.

2. When did Bloomberg become involved in the Solr community?
We’ve actually been using the Lucene project for a number of years, but we started investing much more heavily in the middle of 2012.

3. How is Bloomberg using Solr?
With the vast amount of financial data and information available, enhanced search functionality is critical for our customers. We use Solr as the basis of a Search-as-a-Service platform we support internally, with over 100 applications hosted on it. We use it for more traditional text search applications such as news search, our communications archive (Bloomberg Vault), legal search and documentation search, but also for more structured search and analytics applications like bond or options searching.

4. What does it mean to be a Solr committer?
Bloomberg is heavily invested in and committed in Solr as a technology for search. We are using Solr in a variety of interesting ways, and we’re trying to make it better in the process. Our committers are making the improvements to Solr that provide features that we need, or fix bugs that we’ve encountered.  We’ve contributed to every release since 4.5, including a few larger modules for streaming and analytics. We believe contributing these back to the community makes the project stronger, and allows others to build on our work, ultimately creating a virtuous cycle. They are also good citizens of the community and pick up patches from others, and contribute changes that just improve the project as a whole. We’re very proud of the work done by our 3 committers, Ramkumar Aiyengar, Christine Poerschke, and Dennis Gove, as well as several other Bloomberg employees.

5. What can we expect to see re Solr use in the near future?
To get an edge in the financial world requires making sense of the massive amounts of data available. Solr, with its ability to search and aggregate both textual and numeric data at scale, is a key part of our strategy at helping our clients to find unique insights.

In terms of our investments in Solr, we’re working very closely with the community on Solr’s alerting capabilities, and we’re also investing in its analytic capabilities (and better integration of machine-learning based rankers. You’ll see our improvements in this space released to the Solr project very soon.