Hybrid SharePoint environments combine deployments of SharePoint on premise with SharePoint Online. There are many different flavors of hybrid scenarios. In this post I will walk you through some of the terminology and explain the different options.
The goal of any hybridization is to leverage the strengths of both parts, while minimizing the components’ weaknesses. Hybrid SharePoint environments enable organizations to realize a higher degree of flexibility than forcing a choice between either an on-premises or cloud model. Organizations can start to achieve the benefits associated with the use of cloud computing coupled with the customization, flexibility, and tight data governance of an on-premises system; while delivering a consistent experience to users.
Although cloud solutions are most certainly recommended, the cloud simply does not work for every organization and every scenario. There are going to be workloads that are not perfect fits for the cloud. In those instances, it’s totally ok to leave those workloads on premise. Here are some scenarios where hybrid solutions are useful:
- Rapid provisioning of new workloads on Office 365 while maintaining existing on-premises workloads
- Organizations wishing to migrate workloads from an existing on-premises environment to the cloud over time in a phased approach
- Organizations wanting to supplement their cloud environment with additional features or customizations which are currently only possible on-premises
- Compliance or data sovereignty reasons which might stipulate certain data be hosted in a particular location
SharePoint Online offers many features which can aid an organization in deploying a robust hybrid environment. Most hybrid environments today will utilize SharePoint 2013 on premise. All of the information you will find on TechNet will be specific to the 2013 version. For purposes of this post, that’s where we’ll focus, however we do have customers utilizing hybrid environments with SharePoint 2010 and 2007.
A hybrid SharePoint environment can enable enterprise users to:
- Search for content in both SharePoint Server 2013 and SharePoint Online at once
- Interact with on-premises business data from SharePoint Online
- Access corporate SAP systems from SharePoint Online
- Seamlessly access files and data in both SharePoint Server 2013 and SharePoint Online
Additionally, a hybrid SharePoint environment can provide greater flexibility in your content management strategy by allowing you to keep sensitive data on-premises while migrating other content to the cloud.
Microsoft supports 3 types of Hybrid topologies for SharePoint:
|One-way outbound||SharePoint Server 2013 Search services can query the SharePoint Online search index and return federated results to SharePoint Server 2013 Search.
|One-way inbound||SharePoint Online Search services can query the SharePoint Server 2013 search index and return federated results to SharePoint Online Search.
|Two-way||Both SharePoint Server 2013 and SharePoint Online Search services can query the search index in the other environment and return federated results.
A one-way inbound hybrid topology enables SharePoint Online to request data from a SharePoint Server 2013 web application. In order for inbound data connections to occur, a web application in the SharePoint Server 2013 must be published to the Internet with an internet-routable URL. This requires the deployment of a reverse proxy device that is configured to securely accept the inbound connection and relay the request to SharePoint Server 2013.
Conversely, a one-way outbound hybrid topology only supports trusted connections from SharePoint Server 2013 to a SharePoint Online web application. Because web applications in SharePoint Online are already configured with an internet-routable URL, SharePoint Server 2013 can connect directly through an existing corporate firewall or forward proxy like any other request to an Internet server.
One-way outbound: An outbound authentication topology lets the on-premises SharePoint Server 2013 farm make authenticated connections to SharePoint Online. Connections to SharePoint Online that originate from SharePoint Server 2013 are referred to as outbound connections.
One-way inbound: An inbound authentication topology lets SharePoint Online make authenticated connections to the on-premises SharePoint Server 2013 farm. Connections to SharePoint Server 2013 that originate from SharePoint Online are referred to as inbound connections.
Two-way: A two-way authentication topology lets SharePoint Online make authenticated connections to the on-premises SharePoint Server 2013 farm, and lets the on-premises SharePoint Server 2013 farm make authenticated connections to SharePoint Online.
Each available hybrid solution requires a specific hybrid topology. Your choice of which hybrid topology to use is based on a combination of what you need to do, the solution you need, your on-premises SharePoint architecture, and the desired user experience. For example, if you want users of your on-premises SharePoint Server 2013 farm to see both local and SharePoint Online results, you might only need a one-way outbound hybrid topology. If you want users to see both sets of search results regardless of the location of the search portal, you will need a two-way topology.
Before you make a decision, collect and consider the information that will frame your business requirements, such as:
- Do your users need to be able to search, find, and use on-premises content and data while they’re in the field or at a branch office?
- Do your remote users need to securely access data from existing on-premises business systems?
- Is it more cost effective to deploy a hybrid environment, or move your SharePoint content and applications to the cloud entirely?
- Are there legal or regulatory considerations that could affect your decision on where to store business data?
- Does your SharePoint Server 2013 farm contain custom code that cannot be easily migrated to SharePoint Online?
As is true for the rollout of any major technology solution, the successful deployment of a hybrid environment is largely dependent on the thoroughness of the design and planning process. You should carefully consider and clearly define your requirements and business goals, and review the constraints of your existing SharePoint environment. Also, take time to consider the technical requirements of deploying and managing the different hybrid topologies. Informed by this information, you can decide which SharePoint hybrid solution or solutions are appropriate for you, and which topology is required to support them.
For more information, contact Perficient and one our certified cloud specialists can help you deploy a SharePoint Hybrid environment. Also, visit TechNet for more details on the above information. Stay tuned to this blog for more information, I’ll be writing more in depth blogs on Hybrid Architectures.