In the #CollabTalk tweetjam held May 29th, 2014, our panel of experts and members of the community shared their experiences and advice surrounding what it takes to get SharePoint hybrid deployments right. You can find a tweet-by-tweet summary on Storify. This article focuses on the fourth question asked: "Is a hybrid search deployment difficult, and if so, what are the pain points?"
As I talk with customers about their hybrid SharePoint plans, a large number of their questions surrounds the ins and outs of search, and how the results will display if pulling content from their existing on premises infrastructure as well as from SharePoint Online and/or SharePoint hosted via Azure. Thankfully, we had quite a few experts on hand with extensive experience deploying hybrid search solutions. For example, we were joined by Jeff Fried (@jefffried), CTO of SharePoint search-related ISV BA Insight, who was also part of the FAST Search team when it was acquired by Microsoft a few years back:
Several of our panelists provided versions of SharePoint's infamous "it depends" answer, which means that the level of difficulty tends to increase or decrease based on the complexity of your requirements, and how you want the search results to display. Four SharePoint MVPs shared their thoughts in this manner: Hans Brender (@hansbrender), CEO of sqtm PSC GmbH in Germany, Ben Curry (@curryben) from Summit 7 Partners, Fabian Williams (@fabianwilliams) from Planet Technologies, and Rene Modery (@modery) from 1stQuad Solutions AG:
Ultimately, our panelists agreed that the technical issues were not as much the issue as the user experience. Adam Preston (@_apreston), Collaboration and cloud Practice Manager at TCSC, and Naomi Moneypenny (@nmoneypenny), CTO from ManyWorlds in Houston, agreed that the user experience should take center stage:
Jeff Fried and Fabian Williams followed comments by Thomas Carpe (@thomascarpe), Principal SharePoint Architect with Liquid Mercury Solutions, sharing some of the "sticking points" they have run into with hybrid search deployments:
There are some great insights into the hybrid search problem from this tweetjam, and I encourage you to review the tweet-by-tweet detail over on my Storify summary. Of course, the best summary of the problem, IMO, came from SharePoint developer and consultant Paul Swider (@pswider):
That's a great point. People tend to gravitate toward the latest/greatest technology, but often do so without having mastered what they already have in place. I think search is a great example of where organization's pursue aggressive plans without a clear understanding of what they want to achieve, and what the user experience will be like when the new system is deployed. Search is, arguably, one of the most essential aspects of any knowledge management platform -- ample time should be spent to understand and document the requirements, and to map out the UX in detail, getting feedback and buy-in from all stakeholders before investing too much time and expense.
In the next article in this series, we'll be looking at the major road blocks to hybrid deployments.