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SharePoint Cloud Hybrid Search Service Application

Andrew Billings  |  
Oct 20, 2015
As part of the August 2015 Public Update (PU) for SharePoint Server 2013 ( and the Public Preview of SharePoint 2016 IT Preview ( there is a new SharePoint service application in the mix – Cloud Hybrid Search Service Application. As of September 7th, 2015 there are the appropriate hooks in Office 365 to get everything up and running.
Microsoft has been good for keeping us in the “know” on this release so please reference their documentation as well:
• Service Application Overview:
• Ignite Session on Cloud Search Service Application:
In order to utilize this new service you will need to be on the correct patch level, but after that you need to sign up for the Microsoft Cloud Hybrid Search Preview Program at This will provide you with a walkthrough of the configuration as well as a couple of great PowerShell scripts for getting everything up and running.
Since the documentation is already out there and I have gone through it I can vouch for the fact that everything works flawlessly. There is one thing that is not covered – How to get results to show up in the SharePoint on premises environment. You will need to setup “outbound query federation” by configuring a result source pointing at the URL of the root of the SharePoint Online site collection. Make this the default result source so search results work in on premises.

What do you need?
  • SharePoint Server Farm On Premises – Running 2013 August 2015 PU or 2016 IT Preview
  • Directory Synchronization with password sync using one of the following tools:
    • DirSync
    • Azure AD Sync
    • Azure AD Connect (Recommended)
  • Office 365 Tenant (With your on premises domain added)
  • Optional: Reverse Proxy needed for Office Web Apps (WAC) Preview
The nuts and bolts:
First, this new service application looks just like the normal search service application. According to Microsoft they didn’t change any code as far as the interface goes. This means that the service application can be published/consumed by other farms – ranging from SharePoint 2010 to SharePoint 2016. Even though looks are the same, there are some distinct differences from the original search service application.
Using the new service application, it’s Office 365 that processes the content, stores the index, and processes analytics. The cloud hybrid search service application doesn’t use its own content processing component, index component, analytics processing component, links database, or analytics database. These components and databases are idle, which means you don’t need to be concerned about scaling them out! This means you really only need to be concerned about the following:
  • Crawl Component(s)
  • Admin Component(s)
  • Query Processing Component(s)
  • Search Admin Database
  • Crawl Database
Due to these changes you now manage the Search Scheme in SharePoint Online. After the initial crawl a new managed property is created called isexternalcontent. If this is set to 1 it is on premises content and if it is 0 it is SharePoint online content. This gives you flexibility in what to display in the search center. Search results contain a mix of On Premises and SharePoint Online content (without needing to setup a query rule/result block!) unless you are using contextual scopes (this site, this list, etc.) which will return only the appropriate results. I can honestly say I’m impressed! To the cloud!

Note: This is not supported yet in the Government Community Cloud (GCC) per


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