The Unily hybrid experience

Hybrid search in SharePoint Online makes finding content easy, wherever the content lives.

An organisation may have a requirement for a Hybrid environment if their content and applications are spread across On-premises systems and Office 365. To provide a seamless experience for end-users, it's really important to be able to surface content from On-premises applications such as SharePoint Server 2010 or 2013, or in Office 365 applications such as Unily and SharePoint Online.

Hybrid Search enables us to do this. Today, this is built on top of SharePoint Online and SharePoint Server 2013 using query federation, which means two isolated search indexes exist (one in each environment) and queries are passed from one to the other securely, but results are presented to users in 2 separate blocks, with no relevancy to each other.

In the future Microsoft will support a unified index in the cloud, providing a single entry point and result set for search queries, allowing users to find content they need regardless of where it's stored (Fig1).

Figure 1

BrightStarr are very fortunate to be one of the few Microsoft partners who are part of the early Technical Adoption Program (TAP) for this new Hybrid Search capability.

Some of the key features of this Hybrid search capability are:

  • Providing the ability for companies to crawl various content sources such as SharePoint Server 2007, 2010 or 2013, File shares and other line of business applications using Business Connectivity Services connectors feeding a unified search index hosted in SharePoint Online using a new Cloud Search Service Application.
  • The unified search index can be consumed by search queries submitted both from SharePoint Online and SharePoint on-premises environments.
  • A "geo-crawl" capability is provided allowing multiple farms in different global locations to be crawled and feed the single search index hosted in SharePoint Online, resulting in a unified and consistent search experience for all end users regardless of where they search from.
  • A secure search experience is ensured by encrypting parsed content and metadata that is stored in the SharePoint Online Index before it leaves your on-premises environment, and ensuring security principals defined on-premises are reflected in the SharePoint Online index.

One of the many capabilities of the Unily Intranet as a service, is the optimised search experience it provides, built directly on-top of SharePoint Search technology. As a result of this, Unily takes direct advantage of the Hybrid Search capabilities described above. In addition to this, many of the content aggregation widgets on the Stories screen and Documents Centre are built using Search services provided by Office 365 and SharePoint Online, meaning that Unily can inherently take advantage of the Hybrid Search features to aggregate content from various content sources across a Hybrid environment, yet providing users with a single unified experience (Fig 2).

Figure 2 

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Sam Hassani Principal Consultant

‘Sensible’ Sam is an asset to the consulting team. Having jumped the fence from Microsoft a few years back, he now consults and designs large scale SharePoint, O365 and Azure solutions for BrightStarr. His conscientious approach got him his nickname, and although he’s not afraid to take risks, he’s always a safe bet. Delivering stable, well thought out solutions time and time again.

In his previous job, he specialized in SharePoint, working in the field and with the product team, Sam is genuinely excited by his vocation and speaks at conferences and events with enthusiasm. Just don’t get him started on hybrid search! At the weekend Sam likes to ride his road bike and hang out with his young son.

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