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Evaluating SharePoint Hybrid Search Options

Hybrid Federated Search and Cloud Hybrid Search

john thompson
John Thompson
Functional & Industry Analytics Manager

sharepoint-cloud-hybrid.jpgWith the launch of SharePoint 2016, Microsoft has updated its hybrid search. What does that mean to existing on-premises SharePoint customers who also utilise Office 365 (O365)? What do you do with your content - move it to the cloud or keep it on-premises? How can you search for it, since Microsoft’s message is “the cloud is where we are going and focusing our efforts”?

Over the past six years, the cloud has matured, and in many cases, moving content to the cloud is a cost-effective option for many organisations. But what if you don’t want to move your on-premises content to the cloud or you feel that questions about securing your content have not fully been answered – what do you do?

In this blog, I’ll briefly discuss two SharePoint hybrid search options – Hybrid Federated Search and Cloud Hybrid Search. For a deep-dive into their pros and cons, configuration guidance, and use cases, download my white paper.

Hybrid Federated Search Model

Prior to the release of the Cloud Hybrid Search model in 2016, you would have needed to go down the SharePoint hybrid search route known as “Hybrid Federated Search.” In this scenario, when a user enters a search query, he or she gets search results from the O365 search index and from the SharePoint on-premises index – great!  

But with this setup, there are still difficulties to unify search relevancy and to ensure appropriate access and user permission.

In short, Hybrid Federated Search can be cumbersome to set up and configure and produces two separate sets of search results – not ideal. So, what did Microsoft do next? They listened to their customer base and created the “Cloud Hybrid Search” model.  

Cloud Hybrid Search Model

The Cloud Hybrid Search allows you to index all your crawled content, including on-premises content, in your search index in O365. When users enter a query in a Search Center, they get search results from the O365 search index, and thus, get results both from on-premises and O365 content.

Eliminating challenges with user permission and improving search relevancy are among the advantages of Cloud Hybrid Search. But there also are pre-requisites and configurations that are critical if you want to optimise this setup. As more customers move on-premises content to O365, the Cloud Hybrid Search model will become a viable option that allows end-users to enjoy a better search experience and enables companies to be more cost-effective. 

Although Cloud Hybrid Search appears to be the future, we’ve seen that many customers with large on-premises SharePoint farms are still looking for more guidance in order to define their hybrid search deployment paths to minimise risks. Based on our experience with customers, we have compiled practical insights and specific guidelines for implementing SharePoint hybrid search – download this white paper to learn more. 

- John