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Solr at Virgin Money Giving

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Virgin Money Giving is a UK-based not-for-profit business that was launched as a result of Virgin Money’s sponsorship of the London Marathon and raised over £10 million for charity in the first 6 months of operation. The aim of the business is to provide a better deal for charities than that provided by the for-profit companies that previously dominated the sector. Search is of critical importance to the business to help connect fundraisers with charities and fundraising events, as well as allowing donors to find charities to donate to or fundraisers to sponsor.

The architectural vision was to build a service-oriented architecture leveraging Open Source software for cost effectiveness and flexibility. Ixxus, a Lucid Imagination partner, helped Virgin Money Giving to realise their overall vision including designing and implementing a search architecture that met the following goals:

  • Not polluting business logic or tightly coupling it to a search engine API
  • Asynchronous ‘fire and forget’ indexing
  • Read-only replica search nodes for scale out
  • High Availability / Disaster Recovery

This presentation will describe how the combination of Solr, the Spring Framework and JMS was successfully used on Virgin Money Giving, a medal winning project in the British Computer Society 2010 Computing awards. This session is aimed at architects and will cover the event-driven approach employed, the Solr features utilised and some of the alternative solutions that might be considered now.

The application built for the Virgin Money giving was awarded a medal by the BCS ( for an outstanding community IT project. See for details.

Download session slides.