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Overview of hybrid SharePoint 2013 for business decision makers

SharePoint 2013

Applies to: SharePoint Online, SharePoint Server 2013

Topic Last Modified: 2015-03-09

Summary: What is SharePoint hybrid? Learn about how integrating a SharePoint Server 2013 and Office 365 SharePoint online environment can add flexibility and mobility to your company.

Cloud services such as SharePoint Online in Office 365 can be an attractive alternative to on-premises SharePoint business solutions. However, for a variety of reasons, you might want or need to deploy specific solutions in the cloud while still maintaining your on-premises SharePoint Server 2013 farm. Some enterprises may wish to gradually move their existing on-premises SharePoint Server 2013 services to the cloud, using a staged migration in which SharePoint Server 2013 workloads are moved to SharePoint Online one at a time. Hybrid functionality in SharePoint Server 2013 and SharePoint Online in Office 365 enables you to extend your on-premises investment to the cloud by integrating services like SharePoint Search, Business Connectivity Services, and Duet Enterprise Online.

A SharePoint hybrid environment integrates features in SharePoint Online with your on-premises SharePoint Server 2013 system. By leveraging both systems and allowing access to both, companies can integrate their business services to create a hybrid SharePoint environment that enables secure access to applications and data from almost anywhere.

Online + On-premises = Hybrid

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.

A hybrid solution can let your company get started in the cloud, taking a small step first to explore cloud functionality on a small scale. Some companies prefer taking a slower approach and learning what works best for them. You can use hybrid SharePoint to provide access to collaboration features and content for team projects, extranet users, and remote divisions. Using hybrid SharePoint, you can migrate team projects to SharePoint Online while maintaining connectivity to SharePoint Server 2013 content and resources. A hybrid environment enables enterprise users to be connected from almost anywhere to the resources and content they need.

If your on-premises SharePoint Server 2013 environment contains custom code or a third-party solution package that prevents you from completely migrating from your on-premises environment, a hybrid environment enables you to retain that system and also extend it to the cloud when necessary. Many companies have sensitive data that must remain directly within the company’s control or within specific geopolitical boundaries due to regulatory restrictions. Using hybrid SharePoint, private or sensitive data can stay on-premises without compromise. As a business, you can decide how to customize the experience to make sure the right people can securely get to the right data.

There are several different options for SharePoint hybrid. The hybrid SharePoint model, or topology, you choose depends on what your business needs and goals are. The size of your company and the complexity of your existing setup must be seriously considered. If you are a small or mid-sized organization, it may prove to be more cost effective to adopt a full cloud model to reduce IT infrastructure costs and management.

Before you start planning a hybrid solution, you need to ask what it is you want to accomplish. What business problems are you trying to solve? Do you want to find ways to make your company more flexible and mobile? Do you have most of your workloads on an on-premises SharePoint server? Do you have remote workers using the extranet who don’t have access to resources on your on-premises servers? For example, maybe you have a sales representative who is on the road logged on to SharePoint Online and who needs to find out if an important sales document exists anywhere in the company system. A hybrid solution can make it possible for that person to easily search and connect with the needed data.

Here are some possible ways that hybrid can help.

What do you want to do?

Business goal Solution

I want users to be able to search both SharePoint Online and my on-premises SharePoint Server 2013 farm at the same time.

SharePoint hybrid lets users search from both systems and access content from each. Depending on how you set up your system, you can have only on-premises users, only online users, or both be able to search both systems.

I don’t want to manage multiple directory services; I want to synchronize user accounts across the cloud and on-premises.

By using Active Directory sync, synchronize your user accounts from your on-premises SharePoint Server 2013 environment with those in SharePoint Online.

We have a great solution developed with Business Connectivity Services (BCS), and we want to expand that solution to the cloud.

In a hybrid environment you can leverage your existing BCS solutions to allow connections to your on-premises data sources from SharePoint Online.

Can I have a single sign-on experience for users? Can I restrict who can and who can’t?

How do you want your users to log on? Depending on your preference, you can let users have a single sign-on experience, logging them on to both systems with one logon or be prompted for credentials.

Remember that a SharePoint hybrid environment isn’t static. You can evolve it over time as the needs and demands from your users grow. The right hybrid environment is the one that is right for you, your business, and your customers. Gather your resources to understand your requirements. Sometimes the best way to the cloud is to start small and gradually expand.

The next step is to evaluate the technical and architectural considerations of a hybrid deployment and to find out how your business requirements and goals can be used to decide which hybrid solutions are appropriate for you. To learn more, visit Overview of hybrid SharePoint 2013 for technical decision makers.

To configure a hybrid SharePoint environment, you need a combination of expert skills and significant hands-on experience with several products, including SharePoint Server 2013, SharePoint Online, and related products and technologies. If this skill and expertise is not available in-house, we recommend that you engage Microsoft Consulting Services to provide technical guidance and support during the design and deployment of your hybrid environment.

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