Hybrid SharePoint allows you to combine the efficiency, cost, and agility benefits of Office 365, along with your existing SharePoint Server deployment.
There are several common scenarios that can be supported well in a configuration with on-premises portals hosted in SharePoint Server:
Existing portals, with new content online. A growth strategy of placing new content and sites in Office 365, while maintaining existing applications in an on-premises SharePoint farm. New Team Sites, collaboration portals, and project sites might be hosted in SharePoint Online; My Sites might be moved to OneDrive for Business, or specific content might be stored and managed in the cloud.
Existing portals with content moving online. Established solutions and customizations that cannot current be replicated in SharePoint Online (due to customizations which can’t be supported in Office 365), or where the cost and effort to move them is prohibitive.
Unified Portals across security or compliance boundaries. A requirement to keep certain data and information systems on-premises or within their geopolitical boundaries to satisfy compliance regulations or legal policies.
This configuration is called an “outbound” hybrid topology by Microsoft. This term seems designed to confuse the innocent, but it means that the content is ‘flowing out’ from the cloud to a portal on premise.
How BA Insight improves the OOTB experience
Microsoft provides several building blocks for SharePoint hybrid, including identity management, server-to-server trust, federation, and Business Connectivity Services (BCS) across multiple supported authentication topologies. However, 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 Prviews, Visual Refiners, and User-Generated InfoSites. Primarily, these portals will be hosted by the SharePoint Server farm in this configuration; secondary portals hosted within SharePoint Online can be driven off this index as well.
Whenever possible, this is a single centralized index; in this configuration, that index is located in the SharePoint Server farm on-premises (or in a dedicated hosted instance of SharePoint Server). In particular, SharePoint Online information is crawled from a SharePoint Server farm, where content processing such as auto-categorization can be done. Content from many other systems (located on-premises and/or in their own cloud platforms) is similarly crawled and processed, usually with the same tags, taxonomies, and rules. The single on-premises index provides quick response, unified results with consistent metadata and great relevancy, and full control, including the ability to fully tailor the user experience.
In situations where data residency or content volumes prohibit a single index, a virtual index (also called a federated index) is created across farms and unified into a single interleaved result set. All content is crawled into an index in one of these farms and automatically tagged with metadata that is replicated and consistent across farms. This provides a fully unified set of results, without crawling content across geographic or security boundaries.
Primary portals in this configuration are hosted in SharePoint Server. Secondary portals can be hosted in SharePoint Online, using the remote result source facility from SharePoint.
Secure Connectivity to Enterprise Systems
The Connectivity software provides secure, high-performance crawling and indexing for a wide variety of content sources. Portals hosted in SharePoint Server can include important content from many different on-prem and cloud-based systems.This includes an option to crawl SharePoint Online; if the amount of content you keep in SharePoint Online is relatively small, crawling and indexing this content can be the simplest approach and also provide the best user experience.
Federated Search with a Unified Result Set
With our search orchestration, BA Insight extends the OOTB result source mechanism to provide a true unified view experience (beyond result blocks and local refiners to a fully interleaved result set). In this process, refiner values are merged, and metadata can be augmented – including the creation of a source refiner allowing users to see what results come from what source and drill down to a specific source or set of sources. A single result set has proven to be much more natural and effective for users than multiple tabs, lists, or result blocks.
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 SharePoint Online, the same process can be applied to content in SharePoint Online, and term sets can be shared across hybrid SharePoint environments. Microsoft strongly recommends having a structured information architecture prior to distributing content between two environments, if search is used heavily. Few organizations have this in place; automatic metadata creation in both environments is the only pragmatic way to accomplish it, and BA Insight makes this possible.
Consistently Remarkable User Experiences in a Hybrid SharePoint environment
BA Insight’s software portfolio includes Smart Previews of content from outside of SharePoint, Content Assembly to automate time-consuming find-cut-and-paste work, and Visual Refiners that help you assemble remarkable user experiences quickly. The user experience is consistent and strong, independent of where the content lies.
Moving content into the cloud (and occasionally out of it), is often a big part of transitioning between or across different hybrid scenarios. The BA Insight Software Portfolio can be used to manage and automate the content migration process, including analyzing and grooming the 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.