Create an Azure Cognitive Search service in the portal

Azure Cognitive Search is an Azure resource used for adding a full text search experience to custom apps. You can integrate it easily with other Azure services that provide data or additional processing, with apps on network servers, or with software running on other cloud platforms.

You can create search service using the Azure portal, which is covered in this article. You can also use Azure PowerShell, Azure CLI, the Management REST API, or an Azure Resource Manager service template.

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Before you start

The following service properties are fixed for the lifetime of the service - changing any of them requires a new service. Because they are fixed, consider the usage implications as you fill in each property:

  • Service name becomes part of the URL endpoint (review tips for helpful service names).
  • Service tier (Basic, Standard, and so forth) determines the characteristics of the underlying physical hardware. As such, your choice of tier affects billing and sets an upward limit on capacity. Some features are not available on the free tier.
  • Service region can determine the availability of certain scenarios. If you need high security features or AI enrichment, you will need to create Azure Cognitive Search in the same region as other services, or in regions that provide the feature in question.

Subscribe (free or paid)

To try search for free, you have two options:

  • Open a free Azure account and use free credits to try out paid Azure services. After credits are used up, keep the account and continue to use free Azure services, such as Websites. Your credit card is never charged unless you explicitly change your settings and ask to be charged.

  • Alternatively, activate Azure credits in a Visual Studio subscription. A Visual Studio subscription gives you credits every month you can use for paid Azure services.

Paid (or billable) search becomes effective when you choose a billable tier (Basic or above) and create the resource.

Find the Azure Cognitive Search offering

  1. Sign in to the Azure portal.

  2. Click the plus sign ("+ Create Resource") in the top-left corner.

  3. Use the search bar to find "Azure Cognitive Search" or navigate to the resource through Web > Azure Cognitive Search.

Create a resource in the portal

Choose a subscription

If you have more than one subscription, choose one for your search service. If you are implementing double encryption or other features that depend on managed service identities, choose the same subscription as the one used for Azure Key Vault or other services for which managed identities are used.

Set a resource group

A resource group is a container that holds related resources for your Azure solution. It is required for the search service. It is also useful for managing resources all-up, including costs. A resource group can consist of one service, or multiple services used together. For example, if you are using Azure Cognitive Search to index an Azure Cosmos DB database, you could make both services part of the same resource group for management purposes.

If you aren't combining resources into a single group, or if existing resource groups are filled with resources used in unrelated solutions, create a new resource group just for your Azure Cognitive Search resource.

Create a new resource group

Over time, you can track current and projected costs all-up or you can view charges for individual resources. The following screenshot shows the kind of cost information you can expect to see when you combine multiple resources into one group.

Manage costs at the resource group level


Resource groups simplify cleanup because deleting a group deletes all of the services within it. For prototype projects utilizing multiple services, putting all of them in the same resource group makes cleanup easier after the project is over.

Name the service

In Instance Details, provide a service name in the URL field. The name is part of the URL endpoint against which API calls are issued: For example, if you want the endpoint to be, you would enter myservice.

Service name requirements:

  • It must be unique within the namespace
  • It must be between 2 and 60 characters in length
  • You must use lowercase letters, digits, or dashes ("-")
  • Do not use dashes ("-") in the first 2 characters or as the last single character
  • You may not use consecutive dashes ("--") anywhere


If you think you'll be using multiple services, we recommend including the region (or location) in the service name as a naming convention. Services within the same region can exchange data at no charge, so if Azure Cognitive Search is in West US, and you have other services also in West US, a name like mysearchservice-westus can save you a trip to the properties page when deciding how to combine or attach resources.

Choose a location

Azure Cognitive Search is available in most regions, as documented in the Products available by region.

As a general rule, if you're using multiple Azure services, choose a region that is also hosting your data or application service. Doing so minimizes or voids bandwidth charges for outbound data (there are no charges for outbound data when services are in the same region).

  • AI enrichment requires Cognitive Services to be in the same physical region as Azure Cognitive Search. There are just a few regions that don't provide both. The Products available by region page indicates dual availability by showing two stacked check marks. An unavailable combination has a missing check mark:

    Regional availability

  • Business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) requirements should be met by creating multiple search services in regional pairs. For example, if you are operating in North America, you might choose East US and West US, or North Central US and South Centra US, for each search service.

Features that have limited availability based on regions are listed below. Supported regions are listed in the feature article:

Choose a pricing tier

Azure Cognitive Search is currently offered in multiple pricing tiers: Free, Basic, Standard, or Storage Optimized. Each tier has its own capacity and limits. Also the tier you select may impact the availability of certain features. See Feature availability by tier for guidance.

Basic and Standard are the most common choices for production workloads, but initially many customers start with the Free service for evaluation purposes. Among the billable tiers, key differences are partition size and speed, and limits on the number of objects you can create.

Remember, a pricing tier cannot be changed once the service is created. If you need a higher or lower tier, you will have to re-create the service.

Create your service

After you've provided the necessary inputs, go ahead and create the service.

Review and create the service

Your service is deployed within minutes. You can monitor progress through Azure notifications. Consider pinning the service to your dashboard for easy access in the future.

Monitor and pin the service

Get a key and URL endpoint

Unless you are using the portal, programmatic access to your new service requires that you provide the URL endpoint and an authentication API key.

  1. On the Overview page, locate and copy the URL endpoint on the right side of the page.

  2. On the Keys page, copy either one of the admin keys (they are equivalent). Admin API keys are required for creating, updating, and deleting objects on your service. In contrast, query keys provide read-access to index content.

    Service overview page with URL endpoint

An endpoint and key are not needed for portal-based tasks. The portal is already linked to your Azure Cognitive Search resource with admin rights. For a portal walkthrough, start with Quickstart: Create an Azure Cognitive Search index in the portal.

Scale your service

After your service is provisioned, you can scale it to meet your needs. If you chose the Standard tier for your Azure Cognitive Search service, you can scale your service in two dimensions: replicas and partitions. Had you chosen the Basic tier, you can only add replicas. If you provisioned the free service, scale is not available.

Partitions allow your service to store and search through more documents.

Replicas allow your service to handle a higher load of search queries.

Adding resources increases your monthly bill. The pricing calculator can help you understand the billing ramifications of adding resources. Remember that you can adjust resources based on load. For example, you might increase resources to create a full initial index, and then reduce resources later to a level more appropriate for incremental indexing.

  1. Go to your search service page in the Azure portal.
  2. In the left-navigation pane, select Settings > Scale.
  3. Use the slidebar to add resources of either type.

Add capacity through replicas and partitions


Per-partition storage and speed increases at higher tiers. For more information, see capacity and limits.

When to add a second service

Most customers use just one service provisioned at a tier providing the right balance of resources. One service can host multiple indexes, subject to the maximum limits of the tier you select, with each index isolated from another. In Azure Cognitive Search, requests can only be directed to one index, minimizing the chance of accidental or intentional data retrieval from other indexes in the same service.

Although most customers use just one service, service redundancy might be necessary if operational requirements include the following:


In Azure Cognitive Search, you cannot segregate indexing and querying operations; thus, you would never create multiple services for segregated workloads. An index is always queried on the service in which it was created (you cannot create an index in one service and copy it to another).

A second service is not required for high availability. High availability for queries is achieved when you use 2 or more replicas in the same service. Replica updates are sequential, which means at least one is operational when a service update is rolled out. For more information about uptime, see Service Level Agreements.

Next steps

After provisioning a service, you can continue in the portal to create your first index.

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