Qbox, a startup that operates a cloud-based version of the Elasticsearch open-source search database for use in other companies’ applications, is announcing today that it has raised $2.4 million.

Currently the startup makes it easier for companies to deploy and maintain services once they’ve chosen to use Elasticsearch. Developers no longer need to take time out to set up the database on top of server and storage infrastructure. Qbox has it ready to go in several locations within the Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, IBM SoftLayer, and Rackspace clouds. Support is available, too. The service has attracted around 350 customers, including Nordstrom, Renault-Nissan, and Yahoo Small Business.

And there is a market in hosted databases. Elastic, the company behind the Elasticsearch database, itself acquired a hosted Elasticsearch startup, Found, earlier this year. Startup Compose, which offered hosted Elasticsearch as well as hosted versions of other databases, got acquired by IBM last month. Other competitors include Bonsai and Rackspace’s ObjectRocket.

But Qbox wants to go further than just hosting Elasticsearch. The startup has set out on building “Project Gossamer” — a front end that admins will be able to use to configure search and analytics workloads for their applications.

“Right now, Elasticsearch is a back-end command-line technology,” Qbox cofounder and chief executive Mark Brandon told VentureBeat in a chat exchange today. “We want to make it more accessible to non-propeller heads.”

A screenshot of "Project Gossamer" from Qbox.

Above: A screenshot of Project Gossamer from Qbox.

Image Credit: Qbox

Project Gossamer will use machine learning to provide better search functionality.

“E-commerce search is the prototypical example,” Brandon wrote. “Behavioral data is collected on the user from various sources (email, previous visits, click stream, etc.) and search results are instantly tailored to behavioral patterns, making conversions more likely. Right now, that’s a horrendous roll-your-own process for most merchants, if they roll it at all.”

Qbox, then, will become much more than a front end for Elasticsearch clusters. The system will be set up in such a way that companies can store the behavioral data in a database other than Elasticsearch, even if the search index stays in Elasticsearch, Brandon wrote.

The service could well help Qbox compete with the likes of Algolia and Swiftype. It should arrive in late October, Brandon wrote.

Qbox, formerly known as StackSearch, started in 2012 and has offices in San Francisco and Fayetteville, Arkansas. The startup participated in the Alchemist Accelerator program earlier this year. The startup employs 12 people, and the headcount should double in a year, Brandon wrote.

​Vulcan Ventures led the round in Qbox. Flint Capital, FundersClub, Salesforce chief technology officer Steve Tamm, and former DocuSign CEO Steve King also participated.

A blog post has more on the news.