SharePoint 2016

The time has come and SharePoint 2016 is finally out in Beta. This release is the latest on-premises release since Office 365, demonstrating Microsoft’s ongoing commitment to on-premises experiences. The original release time has now been pushed back to Spring 2016. There’s an apparent good reason for this as Microsoft are hoping to get as much feedback as possible from clients and vendors which they can they incorporate into the product before its final release.

How to Configure Hybrid Features in SharePoint 2016?

Also announced is the cloud hybrid search preview – aimed at customers of SharePoint Server 2013 and Office 365, as well as being included in the SharePoint Server 2016 IT Preview.

This search feature enables users to find content whether it is on-premise of in the cloud, with a combing search relevancy ranking.

All the hybrid and data loss prevention (DLP) features were not available for installation and configuration in the Technical Preview released in August 2015, but they were mentioned at the Ignite Conference in May 2015. Later in the year, Beta 2 was released and allowed us to finally try the following features:

  • Hybrid search, site features, and OneDrive
  • Data loss prevention
  • Durable Links
  • Minroles
  • Central Administration and Infrastructure Improvements
  • Zero Downtime Patching
  • 5,000 Item List View Threshold Removal

Why the big emphasis on hybrid? Many customers are not quite cloud-ready, perhaps because of industry regulations or dependency on features only available for on-premises SharePoint. So Microsoft created SharePoint 2016 as a solution that allows organizations to access content from both Office 365 and on-premises SharePoint. Not many people have actually installed and configured all the hybrid features, but we’ve had the opportunity to dive deep and help customers get them up and running.

SharePoint 2016 has a new Search Service Application called a Cloud Search Service Application that sets up a synchronization service to push data into the Office 365 Search Indexer. All the content sits in the Office 365 Indexer, including crawled properties and managed properties. This new service application has all the configuration settings available, but the farm only needs result sources and content sources configured.

Below are the steps required to create a working Cloud Search Service Application:

Step 1: Add a managed service account in Central Administration for Search Service Administration and check in Office 365 that you have assigned a license to this account after directory synchronization.

Step 2: Follow the steps outlined in this article from Microsoft on how to create a Cloud Search Service Application using the Search Service Administration Account that you created above.

Step 3: Create a site collection or sub-site using the Enterprise Search Center template and set the Global Search Center to that site URL.

Step 4: Fix the JSON Error bug in SharePoint 2016 by reading this TechNet Post and running the script shared within it.

Step 5: Set Conversations, People, Videos, and OneDrive Search Result Sources to point to Office 365 by following the instructions in this article from Microsoft.

Setting up these search result sources to point to Office 365 will show the content directly from Office 365 from People in Delve, OneDrive, Videos, and Conversations. These result sources will prepare the environment for a full redirect in the next section for OneDrive and Delve.

At this point, the environment needs a full search crawl kicked off, so that a test can be run in Office 365 and SharePoint 2016 results.

Configuring Hybrid OneDrive, Site Features, and App Launcher

The hybrid OneDrive feature will redirect the on-premises OneDrive link to Office 365 so that only one site exists for each user without duplication in both on-premises SharePoint 2016 and Office 365. The Site Feature will allow the user to follow any site within the hybrid environment and store the list in Office 365. The Extensible App Launcher will create links to Sites, Newsfeeds, and OneDrive once all of these hybrid features are set up.  This app launcher enables space saving in the SharePoint interface – ensuring links do not clutter the screen, but instead sit within a waffle menu that pops out of the interface. This new app launcher does not allow for custom creation of tiles on premises, but if you add a custom tile in Office 365, it should show up within a few days in the on-premises environment to which it’s linked.

What’s Next?

After following these instructions, the SharePoint 2016 farm should now be fully configured with hybrid features available in your environment. In the future, my hope is that there will be even more hybrid features available, such as hybrid synchronization with Microsoft Identity Management Server and more links on the app launcher.

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