Fabian Williams guided the first steps to a hybrid SharePoint environment. What do you need to think about first when discussing a hybrid environment?
Let me first throw a spoiler alert at you…SharePoint hybrid is not easy. Fabian made it clear that the little over an hour we had was not enough to sort this out; he had a four-hour webinar that wasn’t enough time. So with that in mind, let me first set you, readers, up with some resources.
Channel 9 Fabian Williams
The above links should give you a plethora of information about hybrid environments. Also, they should be more relevant as a technical resource than the rest of this post will be. Here is what I could understand from the avalanche of information Fabian so kindly released on us.
SharePoint Online (SPO) is coming, at least in a hybrid way, so come to terms with that now and start thinking about it. Many people have talked about hybrid as a way to transition slowly to SPO. Fabian offered more ideas than that.
First of all, a hybrid environment could reasonably be your answer. A hybrid environment might be where your organization wants to stay. The second new way to look at it is that a hybrid environment is a more helpful way to wait for SPO to evolve. I hadn’t yet heard this, but it makes a lot of sense.
So why would you want to do this anyway? Well, several reasons were discussed. It is a good way to get an introduction to the cloud. It’s a great way to be able to reach out to employees who are not in the office, or
anywhere in the world (with an internet connection).
It is, of course, a logical migration path as well. You might face some complexity or regulations that won’t let you go fully online; hybrid could be the answer. It is also a good thing to use as a temporary fix. Fabian gave the example of how Microsoft spins up many VMs in support of conferences. They are built, used for the event, and then taken down when it’s over. That might only be an option for large companies, but it is a good use of a hybrid environment.
The bottom line is that if you are thinking about going hybrid, make sure you evaluate your on-prem environment from top to bottom. Something might prohibit you from doing it, and you won’t even need to get into the more technical discussions.
If you have determined hybrid is the way to go, the next step is to look at how you can do it. There are three ways. You can use SPO as essentially a cloud view of your on-prem farm(one-way outbound), You can have SPO set up to actually be able to query your on-prem farm (one-way inbound), or you can have both with two-way bidirectional.
One-way outbound is best for search functions and not much else. One-way outbound allows SPO users to change information on the server, and bidirectional is obviously the best of both worlds. The main downside to bidirectional is that search results are displayed in two blocks. This also does not support search relevance, though Fabian hinted at paying attention to next year’s Ignite Conference (hint, hint).
Once you get this far in the process, it’s time to start thinking about the fact that you will have a public-facing URL
associated with your SharePoint environment. This opens up the issues of having the right certificates and the big security question. The good news is that there are many security options, so that shouldn’t be a total scare away. You will also have to think about user management and identification. After all, you can’t have just anyone access your farm. Now you are talking about active directories and decisions about single sign-on and the like. While touched on in this session, these topics are much better explained in the links above.