Going Hybrid with SharePoint 2016

SharePoint 2016 hybrid

Going Hybrid with SharePoint 2016

By Nico Martens | October 27, 2017

Back in 2014 when Satya Nadella had just come into his role as Microsoft’s CEO, he announced that Microsoft will move away from its “Mobile first” strategy to head towards a new “Cloud first” approach. It was quite a bold move at the time, but in just two years, Microsoft more than doubled their revenue from its cloud business. (What an entrance, Satya!)

With the cloud being so well received and Office 365 being one of the key points of focus that enables cloud collaboration, it’s safe to assume that most of Microsoft’s future investments will be cloud-based. In fact, organizations that are not open to the cloud will likely be left behind, especially since the new features on Office 365 emphasize cloud collaboration.

However, that’s not to say every organization will be 100% ready to dive into this cloud-first world. Why? To name just a couple of reasons, compliance regulations and custom-built solutions can force an organization to stay on-premise.

Fortunately, a hybrid SharePoint environment can help close the gap between legacy applications and new Office 365 features. In this blog, we’ll cover why SharePoint 2016 makes it easy to configure a hybrid environment, and we’ll discuss if your organization is ready to go hybrid.

What Does a Hybrid SharePoint 2016 Environment Enable?

In a nutshell, setting up a hybrid SharePoint 2016 environment allows users to take advantage of the latest Office 365 features, while still being able to:

  • Host legacy applications that require customizations and are either incompatible with or require a large investment in SharePoint Online.
  • Keep confidential data that is not allowed to leave the organization in SharePoint 2016.

What You Need to Know About SharePoint Server 2016

SharePoint Server 2016 is derived from the same code used to deliver SharePoint Online (which has been validated over years by millions of users), effectively making it the most comprehensively tested version of SharePoint to date. Essentially, this makes SharePoint 2016 the perfect fit to configure a hybrid environment.

However, the new update cycles for SharePoint on-premises and SharePoint Online can make it difficult to keep track of all the features that Microsoft is releasing. And unfortunately, Office 365’s features are not entirely compatible with SharePoint on-premises.

For example, since Delve surfaces personalized content from across the Office 365 environment (including OneDrive for Business, SharePoint, Exchange, and Yammer), this makes it very unlikely for the full Delve experience to crossover into SharePoint on-premises.

Where Hybrid Comes into Effect

Hybrid allows users to get the best of both SharePoint on-premises and SharePoint Online. To expand on the last example, setting up cloud hybrid search can allow Delve to receive signals for on-premises content, thereby allowing it to include documents from your on-premises SharePoint 2016 farm. This also makes finding content easy, whether it lives in SharePoint 2016 or in SharePoint Online.

Here are some instances of how hybrid can impact your on-premises environment:

Hybrid OneDrive for Business

Hybrid OneDrive for Business allows you to redirect your on-premises “OneDrive” button to Office 365 and OneDrive for Business. Depending on the Office 365 license, every user is entitled to store between 1 to 5 TBs of content, with additional storage options available through Microsoft Support.

Hybrid App Launcher

The extensible hybrid app launcher helps facilitate a consistent user experience between SharePoint 2016 and Office 365. Once enabled, it will show the Delve and Video apps, as well as any custom Office 365 app tiles.

Hybrid Taxonomy

Hybrid enables shared taxonomy and shared content types between SharePoint 2016 and SharePoint Online. Existing term groups and content types in SharePoint 2016 can also be copied to SharePoint Online using PowerShell, so you don’t have to manually recreate them.

Hybrid Auditing

The out-of-the-box experience for viewing audit reports in SharePoint 2016 is still very limited and time consuming. Hybrid auditing allows SharePoint administrators to view consolidated user activities from both on-premises and Office 365 via the Office 365 Security and Compliance Center.

Do Your Homework Before Going Hybrid with SharePoint 2016

Even with all the benefits that come with hybrid, there are still some considerations to keep in mind before you deploy a hybrid SharePoint 2016 environment. Since some organizations are legally bound to keep content on-premises (whether it’s for security or industry regulations), ensuring that the hybrid features comply with your organization’s policies is a must.

For example, setting up hybrid search in SharePoint 2016 means that the index will live in Azure and Office 365. This doesn’t mean the documents are “in the cloud,” but rather, the parsed content and metadata within the document is stored in Office 365’s index.

However, all of the data that’s crawled from an on-premises SharePoint 2016 environment is encrypted during transfer and is stored via encrypted BLOB storage. If there is any data in the organization that is not allowed to be in the cloud, you can also set up crawl rules or configure content sources so that the content isn’t detected by the cloud search service application.

Bridging the Gap Between SharePoint 2016 and the Cloud

As Microsoft continues to invest more and more in the cloud, it’s inevitable for organizations to eventually begin storing their data (or at least a part of it) in the cloud. Especially when pairing SharePoint 2016 with Office 365, you can take control of sensitive content to make sure it doesn’t leave your organization.

Before deploying any hybrid feature, be sure to check out the SharePoint 2016 hybrid roadmap as well.


By leveraging the right hybrid features, you can gradually begin moving data into Office 365 without disrupting end users. This also allows you to take advantage of the latest and greatest features provided by Office 365, while still maintaining control over sensitive content.

The future of collaboration is invariably in the cloud, but getting there may not be easy (or even possible!). That’s not to mention how time consuming it can be to plan out how to migrate your organization’s content to Office 365.

Where Metalogix Comes In

With our powerful migration, management, and security tools, you can rest assured that your migration project can scale to meet your environment’s needs… however complex it is! Whether you’re looking to move to Office 365, plan out the first steps in going hybrid, or hoping to secure your on-premises content, we can help.

Metalogix Expert is a free analysis tool that enables organizations to get the insights they need to plan a successful SharePoint migration, optimize their storage infrastructure, and safeguard security risk. Try Metalogix Expert and see how it takes the stress out of going hybrid with SharePoint 2016!

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Nico Martins

Nico is a Infrastructure Engineer working for Portiva, focusing on SharePoint and Office 365 deployments. Nico likes to work in complex scenarios, working with the newest technologies available to deliver the best experience for the customer. Areas of expertise include SharePoint, Office365, Hybrid solutions and Identity Management. His blog can be found at https://www.sharepointrelated.com

Written By: Nico Martens