Cloud Configuration with Portals in SharePoint Online

Organizations aiming to do without SharePoint Server entirely often determine that they still need a Hybrid SharePoint configuration.

They may have started fresh with Office 365, completed a migration to Office 365 quickly, or be planning a quick migration and looking towards a “pure cloud” configuration.  In fact, the rise of cloud-based systems has tended to create silos, which then require a hybrid configuration to provide a unified user experience.

There are two main scenarios where we find that an all-cloud configuration with portals hosted in SharePoint Online must be provided via Hybrid SharePoint

  • 1

    Portals including content outside of SharePoint.  Essential information is in on-premises or cloud-based systems and users need easy unified access to it. Frequently, enterprises have a need to include information from key line of business systems, such as CRM or ERP, systems. These may themselves be cloud-based, for example, Microsoft Dynamics Online or However, SharePoint Online does not support indexing of any content outside of SharePoint, so a hybrid solution is required.

  • 2

    Hosted portals, with all content online. The operational advantages of SharePoint Online and other aspects of Office 365 drive all content to the cloud.  New project and collaboration portals, where the bulk of the content is low-sensitivity content, are natural candidates to put into SharePoint Online. Similarly, seasonal or short-term applications benefit from the easy provisioning of SharePoint OnlineHowever, limitations in SharePoint Online lead to a tailored user experience hosted in SharePoint Server.


Microsoft provides several building blocks for SharePoint hybrid, including identity management, server-to-server trust, and remote result sources. Microsoft’s new Cloud Search Service Application (Cloud SSA) is the way to bring content into a search index running in Office 365. BA Insight’s Connectors for Hybrid SharePoint work in conjunction with the Cloud SSA to create a unified search in Office 365 including external content.

Even using the Cloud SSA, OOTB capabilities do not adequately address portals surfacing content from multiple sources. Users’ experience can suffer without consistent metadata, a unified search result, and an ability to explore and preview results no matter where the content is located. That’s where BA Insight comes in. For scenarios that need more control than search in O365 provides, a hybrid configuration with SharePoint Server hosted (in Azure or by a third party hosting provider) includes the capabilities required and provides the benefits of a cloud-only footprint.

In fact, the rise of cloud-based systems has tended to create silos. In this environment, users’ experience can suffer without consistent metadata, a unified search result, and an ability to explore and preview results no matter where the content is located. That’s where BA Insight comes in.

BA Insight’s software portfolio for Hybrid SharePoint

BA Insight makes a seamless experience possible through a rich index, including consistent metadata and content from enterprise and line-of-business systems, accessed with full security. All content is automatically tagged with metadata and processed for easy findability. Portals driven from this index can provide a remarkable user experience by leveraging pre-built applications such as Smart Previews and Visual Refiners.

Whenever possible, this is a single centralized index, either SharePoint Server or in SharePoint Online.  For situations where a single index just isn’t possible, our Federator provides a ‘virtual single index’.

Content in SharePoint Online is automatically tagged in place using BA Insight’s AutoClassifier for SharePoint Online and then crawled within SharePoint Online. Content from many other systems (located on-premises and/or in their own cloud platforms) is crawled and processed using the BA Insight Software Portfolio, usually using the same tags, taxonomies, and rules. The resulting content will then be parsed and the text from it sent to SharePoint Online for indexing (using the Microsoft Cloud SSA). A single cloud-based index thus provides unified results with consistent metadata.

Secure Connectivity to Enterprise Systems

BA Insight’s Connectivity software provides secure, high-performance crawling and indexing for a wide variety of content sources. Portals hosted in SharePoint Online can include important content from many different on-premise and cloud-based systems.

Consistent Metadata and Information Architecture

BA Insight’s Classification software automatically creates metadata and assigns content types. With the upcoming release of our AutoClassifier for O365, the same process can be applied to content in SharePoint Online. This will be extended to content integrated in from other systems so that a common information architecture is applied across all content.

Take Advantage of Azure

Any of the capabilities and scenarios described here can also be supported with SharePoint Server running in hosted environments, or in Microsoft Azure. This lets you focus on applications, instead of datacenters and infrastructure, without limits on customization. One particular scenario for this is SharePoint for Internet Sites. Product catalogs, public-facing websites, and sophisticated internet portals would all benefit from BA Insight’s technology in this configuration.

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