License - clarification

We are trying to use ES for a SaaS application and would like to understand the license required in case of below scenario. Probably this is a technical discussion forum, but couldn't find any other place where I can ask this, hence posting here.

  • SaaS B2B application
  • Elasticsearch used as index at the backend to store / search user's text documents and other business artifacts
  • Only the features available in the Basic version are needed (no need of x-pack etc)
  • Deployed in cloud
  • ES (via docker image) is used, no modifications to ES code.

Question - Can we use the latest version (8.x) without a paid license?

Just to clarify - We are bootstrapped currently, and asking this to see if we can go live with the basic unpaid version, see some traction and later purchase the supported license as needed.

Hi @A_Thomas Welcome to the community.

Thanks for the question.

With the brief use case description you gave you are OK. In fact that is one of the most common use cases for Elasticsearch. Using the Basic version to get started is a common journey and when you need additional features or decide you do not want to run elasticsearch anymore... You can try Elastic Cloud.

As long as elasticsearch is your "backend" and you are not providing direct access to Elasticsearch / Kibana as a Direct / Managed service you are ok.

Here is the FAQ, you should read it anyway.

The Key points are

You may not provide the products to others as a managed service

You may not circumvent the license key functionality or remove/obscure features protected by license keys

You may not remove or obscure any licensing, copyright, or other notices

Any additional questions should go to


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