Federated Search in SharePoint
- Most requests we hear for "Federated search" in Sharepoint, are in fact requests to be able to search efficiently across external data sources
- SharePoint search federation can be achieved, and it can work very well. However, a focus is necessary on data connectivity and content processing
- As content continues to migrate to cloud repositories such as Office 365, many organizations may wish to keep some content sets behind the firewall. In this environment, federated search can play an important role
- Search Technologies, the leading consulting company dedicated to enterprise search, provides a range of services and engagement methodologies to ensure search excellence in the SharePoint environment.
- We've been a Microsoft GOLD partner for 5+ years, and have provided services to more than 200 Microsoft customers
In SharePoint 2010, federated search was Web Part-based. The standard set-up serves the main results list from SharePoint search indexes only. Results from federated sources appear in peripheral Web Parts. There is nothing wrong with this approach in principle. Indeed, it is a better way to serve federated results than attempting to merge based on incompatible ranking scores.
SharePoint 2013 provides the capability to federate results into "blocks" within the main results list. Administrators are able to specify both the sources and the number of results from each source to be initially displayed. Under administrator control, different results presentations federating different sources into the main results list can be set up. For example, one view for Marketing folks, another for the Technical department.
The overall effect is similar to the "universal search" ideas that Web search engines promote, in which results are conditionally blocked into text, images, video, shopping etc.
With additional user interface work, this "results blocking" effect can also be applied to search results more generally (federated or not). Our blog on Search Results Presentation describes this possibility in more detail.
The optimum approach to federated search depends on your data environment and user needs. Federated search can use one of three models.
Plug-in categorization functionality for SharePoint 2013 search, from the leading enterprise search implementation specialists
Search Technologies provides services to build and implement custom data connectors for SharePoint 2013 search.