Call it Search-as-a-Service but not SaaS. That's just gets confusing.
On Thursday, Microsoft rolled out Azure Search into the growing list of Preview products. Fortunately, most Azure products don't sit in Preview (or, beta) for very long – at least not as long as offerings from other vendors we've experience in the past (wasn't Gmail in beta for a couple years?).
Search-as-a-Service is a pretty self-explanatory feature, but also pretty valuable. In essence, Microsoft has developed a Search snap-in component for Azure subscribers to integrate with their own web-based apps. So, instead of having to develop search capability alongside coding the actual app, developers can just take advantage of Microsoft's snap-in service to enable full-text search capabilities on multiple indexes. The service can be customized and fined-tuned to produce desired search results.
Search-as-a-Service is currently only available in the US East, US West, Europe North, and Asia Pacific Southwest regions. You'd think that a beta (or Preview) version of the service would be free, but that’s only the case for limited use. For a short time, Search-as-a-Service Standard is being offered at a 50% discount of $0.168 per hour. The free offering is limited to 50MB of storage, and 10,000 documents and 3 indexes.
You can check it out here: Azure Search Preview