Motivated by Microsoft’s motto “Mobile first – Cloud first”, more and more companies are toying with the idea of moving to the cloud. However, the plan often fails due to legal or organizational restrictions. The solution? Instead of completely forgoing the advantages of the cloud, invest in a hybrid approach that combines the advantages of both worlds. In this blog post, I would like to give you an understanding of what exactly is meant by a hybrid solution, what advantages it brings and what features it includes with SharePoint Upgrade.
For a more technical look at the topic, we have created a white paper that you can download here for free.
What is a hybrid solution?
In technology, a hybrid solution is a system in which two independent technologies are combined. With a hybrid SharePoint solution, we combine the elements of the classic SharePoint Server (SharePoint On-Premises) variant with those of the SharePoint Online version. Depending on the classification, data on the intranet can then be stored locally or in the cloud, for example.
Microsoft itself describes its hybrid solution as follows: “Meanwhile, on-premises, hosting solutions and cloud services are no longer mutually exclusive. Microsoft offers flexible mixed models, so-called hybrid cloud solutions, which combine the advantages of all models and are tailored to the respective needs of the company.”
In order to better understand the hybrid solution, it is essential to know the basic systems SharePoint Online and SharePoint On-Premises.
SharePoint Online vs. SharePoint On Premises
In the following table we have again compared the main differences between the two variants. The focus is on the organizational aspect. You can find more on this topic here: Best Practices: Migrating from SharePoint On-Premises to the Office 365 Cloud
When does a hybrid solution make sense?
Companies would often like to migrate to the cloud, primarily because of the cost and resource savings. But as already mentioned, there may be organizational, legal or technical reasons that prevent this.
For example, confidential data or many individual applications can prevent a complete move to the cloud. Or the hybrid solution only represents a temporary transition status, while the on-premises variant is migrated to the cloud iteratively.
In general, a hybrid environment can help ease the transition to the cloud by allowing features and functionality to be explored at one’s own pace.
Advantages of a hybrid solution with SharePoint On-Premises and SharePoint Online
Because the hybrid solution is chosen to address a company’s specific needs and constraints, there can be no standardized best practice. In the figure below I show you a way of combining the advantages of both systems.
The combination of SharePoint On-Premises and SharePoint Online offers you the chance to benefit from the advantages of a cloud solution without having to forego the security of your own server or self-extended functions/purchased features
For example, you can take advantage of the following Office 365 value packs:
No need to import bug fixes or updates into Office 365.
Office 365 reflects scalability
, storage space, reliability and hardware.
The security features of the O365 Suite are available (e.g. also Azure MFA).
Files can be shared with external users much more easily.
Scope of maintenance Maintenance
work will mainly be necessary for the local system.
User experience with a hybrid solution with SharePoint
If you are worried that a mixed model will create chaos and disorder and that in the end nobody will know what is actually where and which user profile they need for which page, I can put your mind at ease.
Differences in the online and server solution are unavoidable, but you can and should ensure that the user experience is affected as little as possible.
The number of hybrid solutions is constantly growing
The increasing growth of flexible combination solutions means that Microsoft is developing more and more hybrid solutions that work across systems. Users can now switch seamlessly between SharePoint on-premises and online. The user integration can be expanded in such a way that only the profile of the Office 365 user is used uniformly.
SharePoint 2019 and hybrid solutions
SharePoint 2019 also brings new optimizations for hybrid companies, especially with regard to the hybrid user interface. For example, a SharePoint hybrid status bar has been integrated into Central Administration, which provides direct access to launch the SharePoint hybrid configuration wizard.
With an appropriate configuration, content types and metadata can also be shared and managed. If this is not desired for all data, that is not a problem either.
The user experience is also significantly influenced by the search and especially by the search results. Hybrid deployment offers various options here, which are explained in more detail in the next section.
Deploy a hybrid solution
Careful planning is required to successfully set up a hybrid solution and thus operate SharePoint Online and on-premises in parallel. In this way, redundant processes and data storage can be avoided right from the start.
In our customer projects, we usually design the process of setting up a hybrid environment as follows:
We explain the exact content of the four steps and which components you need to provide the hybrid solution in more detail in our white paper on hybrid solutions. If you are interested, you can request this free of charge. To the white paper
Hybrid features in SharePoint
When adding Office365 to existing SharePoint servers, there is no integration by default. SharePoint hybrid functions offer you the possibility to link the two worlds with each other.
The available hybrid features include hybrid search, OneDrive and hybrid user profiles. I will explain these elements in more detail in this blog post.
The following additional hybrid features are explained in our whitepaper:
the hybrid business connectivity services
Follow websites/docs feature
Hybrid self-service site creation
Extension of the SharePoint Server app launcher with Office 365 functions
To download the whitepaper for free: To the whitepaper
Hybrid search in SharePoint
If the online world is not integrated with the server world, users will have to search both the servers and Office 365 for complete results, since separate search indexes and search centers exist. To avoid this situation, Microsoft offers two different combination options, cloud hybrid search and hybrid collective search.
Cloud hybrid search
Cloud hybrid search crawls on-premises content and indexes it in the Office 365 search index. The entire index (including local content) is located in Office 365. This search is therefore not suitable for companies that want to protect their sensitive data.
Users can search the index from both locations and get the look and feel of a normal search as the results are in one result block thanks to the common search index.