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Amazon OpenSearch Plugins: How They Work and Which Ones To Use

Navigating through the vast array of tools and features on Amazon Web Services (AWS) can sometimes feel overwhelming, especially when you’re trying to optimize search functionalities within your applications.

The good news is Amazon OpenSearch plugins are designed to simplify and supercharge your search capabilities. 

In this post, we’ll outline the benefits of OpenSearch plugins. We’ll also give examples of some plugins you might find useful—plugins that will not only make your search functionalities more efficient but also more powerful. 

Whether you’re looking to improve data analysis, enhance search performance, or secure your search operations, these plugins offer a range of solutions tailored to your needs.

What is an OpenSearch plugin?

An OpenSearch plugin is an add-on or extension to Amazon OpenSearch Service that enhances your search and analytics capabilities. These plugins are integral components within the OpenSearch ecosystem, allowing you to customize and extend the functionality of your OpenSearch API. 

Many plugins help you automate routine tasks to make life easier. They can also help you with OpenSearch cost optimization. Examples include the OpenSearch Index Management plugin or the OpenSearch Job Scheduler plugin

Plugins cater to various needs, such as improving search performance, integrating with other services, or adding new data processing features.

Plugins come prepackaged or can be manually installed, depending on your operational requirements and the specific version of the OpenSearch or legacy Elasticsearch you’re using.

With Amazon OpenSearch Serverless, a subset of the OpenSearch Service, you get the convenience of serverless architecture while benefiting from various supported plugins. 

Bottom line: In your journey with OpenSearch, plugins represent a powerful means to tailor the service to your needs. They enhance the efficiency of your search and analytics workflows.

Benefits of using Amazon OpenSearch plugins

Amazon OpenSearch Service enhances your search and analysis capabilities with its powerful plugins. 

By integrating these plugins, you can address specific data challenges, streamline processes, and leverage advanced analytics while maintaining cost-effectiveness.

Solving specific data challenges

Plugins in Amazon OpenSearch Service can be tailored to meet your unique requirements. Whether managing large volumes of real-time logs or dealing with complex data structures, the right plugin can help overcome these obstacles. 

For instance, the OpenSearch asynchronous search plugin allows you to submit a search query in the background, monitor its progress, and retrieve your results later. 

Increased efficiency and productivity

Plugins significantly increase efficiency and productivity by automating routine tasks and enabling more effective data management. 

Tasks like data snapshotting and performance analysis can be streamlined with plugins such as the S3 Repository for snapshots and the OpenSearch Performance Analyzer.

Advanced data analysis capabilities

With the right plugins, Amazon OpenSearch Service transforms into a more robust analytics tool capable of processing complex queries and providing insightful visualizations. 

Plugins can foster advanced data analysis capabilities, offering deeper insights into your datasets and helping you make informed decisions faster.

Better cost efficiency

Using plugins can lead to greater cost efficiency. By optimizing operations and resources based on your needs, plugins help reduce unnecessary overhead and waste, maximizing the value of your investment in OpenSearch.

Types of plugins available for association with your OpenSearch domain

Amazon OpenSearch Service does not currently support custom plugins. However, it offers a selection of predefined plugins you can associate with your OpenSearch domain to enhance its capabilities. 

These plugins facilitate various tasks including language analysis, data manipulation, and custom script execution to optimize the functionality of your domain.

The OpenSearch Command Line Interface (opensearch-cli) supports several plugins. It enables the management and automation of tasks for your OpenSearch cluster directly from the command line.

Right now, the opensearch-cli is compatible with both the Anomaly Detection and k-NN plugins and supports various REST API paths. You can create and delete detectors, initiate and halt their operations, and access k-NN statistics.

Language analysis plugins

Language analysis plugins play a crucial role in the processing and understanding text data within your domain. They typically handle language-specific tasks such as tokenization, stemming, and synonym filtering. 

By improving the search results related to language queries, these plugins allow for a more refined and accurate search experience. You can enhance your search functionality by adding custom dictionaries for domain-specific vocabulary. 

Example: Kuromoji plugin 

Mapper plugins

Mapper plugins are essential for manipulating how data is mapped and indexed in OpenSearch. They enable the creation of custom mapping types or new field types to index your data more effectively. 

These plugins contribute to how OpenSearch understands the type and nature of your data, such as dates, regions, and other aggregate information, ensuring that indices are optimized for search and processing. 

Example: Mapper Size and Mapper Murmur3 plugins

Scripting plugins

Scripting plugins provide the ability to write and execute custom scripts that can extend the functionality of your OpenSearch domain. Such plugins are useful for complex data transformations and computations during the ingest phase or while performing search queries.

With these plugins, you can perform quick calculations and data manipulations based on your configuration changes directly from the OpenSearch console, tailoring the search experience to your needs.

Amazon OpenSearch enhances your search and analytics capabilities through a variety of plugins. These plugins extend the service’s functionality, allowing you to tailor your search clusters to meet specific security, analysis, and data processing needs. 

Below, we’ll explore the most popular plugins that can optimize your OpenSearch clusters.

(For a more detailed outline of these plugins, check out OpenSearch documentation.)

Extended search capabilities

Certain plugins offer advanced search features, such as language analyzers that can process text in various languages and dialects to enhance your search functionality. These extend the core capabilities of OpenSearch, allowing for more nuanced and accurate search results based on natural language processing.

For instance, you could use the OpenSearch SQL plugin to query your Amazon OpenSearch Service rather than the JSON-based OpenSearch query DSL.

Or you could use the OpenSearch k-NN (K-Nearest Neighbors) plugin, which enhances search capabilities by enabling similarity search using the nearest neighbor algorithm. It’s particularly useful in applications like product recommendations and image search.

Data ingestion and processing

Data ingestion and transformation are streamlined through plugins that work with sources, processors, and sinks. Preparing and importing data for analysis is efficient and adaptable to various instance types, ensuring compatibility across availability zones and regions.

For example, with the Amazon OpenSearch cross-cluster replication plugin, you can replicate user indexes, mappings, and metadata from one OpenSearch Service domain to another.

For data visualization, try Integrations along with the OpenSearch Grafana data source plugin or the OpenSearch Dashboards plugin

Originally based on Kibana, Dashboards is a useful tool that serves as an interface for other plugins, such as Security, OpenSearch Alerting, Index State Management, and SQL. 

Security enhancement

OpenSearch security is paramount in data management. Plugins available on the Amazon OpenSearch Service (like the Security Analytics plugin) provide SSL encryption, role-based access control, and authentication mechanisms to safeguard your clusters. This ensures that access to your clusters is secure and compliant with your organization’s policies.

Monitoring and analysis

To oversee the health and performance of your clusters, plugins integrate with Amazon CloudWatch. Notifications can help you monitor key metrics like CPU and memory usage and perform log analytics, which help optimize the performance of various OpenSearch Dashboards. 

An example is the OpenSearch anomaly detection plugin, which alerts you to anomalies in your OpenSearch data in near-real time.

You could also use Trace Analytics, part of the OpenSearch Observability plugin, to analyze trace data from distributed applications. 

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Keeping costs down to save money is imperative when managing an AWS cloud environment, especially as your infrastructure scales. 

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