Archive for category: Search

2015 Recap: The king is dead – long live the king!

02 Jan 2016
January 2, 2016

3 times and you have a pattern, right? This is not the first time I write a recap for the past year, (2014, 2013) – and it is always good fun to reflect the last one and plan the next one.

The Past aka 2015

2015 was a super busy year for me – both work, community and private live was packed and very intense.

Events

I attended so many events this year, without my outlook calendar a reflection would not be possible anymore. Lets start with my favorites:

SharePoint Saturday Belgium / Antwerp

That was my first SharePoint Saturday ever – and it was epic. The spirit of the Belgium SharePoint Community is awesome, speaking there was really rewarding for me! Maybe I cant attend in 2016, but if I have the chance I probably will.

ShareCamp 2015

ShareCamp is totally unique, I totally love the open style of the conference – everybody can speak there, beginner, experts, customers, everybody. I totally like the mix, especially when there are topics that are outside of the “SharePoint box”, I learned a lot there and for me that is perfect infotainment.

ShareCamp Sessionvote

 

Search Stammtisch Munich

We are only few, but dynamite comes in small packages 🙂 Every first Monday we meet in my favorite cocktail bar. It is the best place to talk about SharePoint Search and everything around it, from 3rd party to hybrid, to Azure Search – we covered everything. I hope to see more people this year, but well, Search is a niche and won’t attract hundreds.

http://www.pussersbar.de/en/pussers-bar.html

taken from http://www.pussersbar.de/en/pussers-bar.html

SharePoint User Group Munich

I think I attended very SharePoint User Group Meeting in Munich (that should be 5-6) and organized one. Always good fun!

Conferences

I had the chance to speak at 2 commercial conferences about SharePoint Search this year: SharePoint Days and ShareConf – for 2016 I will try to speak more, maybe I try a different conference, too. Let’s see how it goes.

My blog

From a content producing side, 2015 wasn’t my best. I only crafted 16 posts, but well some of them took really a lot of time. Cloud Hybrid was one of them – and as a premiere I blogged about my new hobby: Paragliding. As one of my new year resolution is “fly more!” the chances are high that I will blog about it again.

Facts and figures

I like figures and statistics and all that – 89.000 page views is not that bad for my tiny blog, isn’t it? I have nothing to compare too, but I am quite happy with it. +12% from last year!

Blog Stats 2015

blog stats for 2015

 

Countries 2015

180 countries – I say “hello” from Germany!

My most visited blog posts are apparently from 2014 – luckily two are about search and that makes me happy:

  1. Installing SharePoint 2013 SP1 with SQL Server 2014 on Windows Server 2012 R2 – Picture Love Story (~14.000 views)
  2. #SharePoint 2013 – Create a Search Service Application and Search Topology with Powershell (~10.200 views)

  3. Install Office Web Apps 2013 for SharePoint 2013 – with PDF Preview (9.700 views)

Contributions

On the contributions part, I tried to commit some time to my favorite tool – SharePoint Search Query Tool – and it is totally worth it. I use that tool so often, so why not improve it to make it even better?

Additionally I started my own tool – Azure Search Tool – I have to admit that I haven’t put any time into it recently, but it’s still fully functionally. I will block some time soon to give some more love because its a cool and useful util.

The Future aka 2016

2015 was a shift year – I saw a lot of clients migrating to SharePoint Online and I think even more will do in 2016. With that move I learned a lot about migration to the cloud, SharePoint Apps and Azure – and I think that will be my business focus for 2016. Maybe we launch a SharePoint App as a product – that would be fun!
Lots of work a head, many challenges to be solved – there is a good year ahead of us! And we will see SharePoint 2016 RTM very soon. I am not as excited as I was for SharePoint 2013 – but the platform matures with every release and I hope to see many many Search challenges and projects. Even more as with 2013 because SharePoint Search is business critical, right?

Main goals for next year: SharePoint Search, Apps, Azure, Community, SharePoint Search, Hybrid, Azure Search, Paragliding. I am a simple man 🙂

just hanging there

Happy new year!

With that said, I wish you all the best for 2016, health, prosperity, lots of excitement and fun!

Cloud Hybrid Search Service – first experiences!

25 Nov 2015
November 25, 2015

Currently I am preparing a session for the next SharePoint Days “Hybrid Worlds” here in Munich. My first presentation topic is “Hybrid Search – everything you need to know!” with focus on the new Cloud Hybrid Search Service Application and here are some of the ideas I will present.

Hybrid Options

Currently I am aware of  6 feasible hybrid options:

One-way Inbound Hybrid

You combine SharePoint Online with SharePoint on-premises – when a user queries in the SharePoint Online Search Center, SPO connects to SharePoint on-premises and executes the same or a similar query there to get results. Both results can then be shown in the SharePoint Search Center.

Challenge

The setup in this case is the most challenging here, at least from the requirements side. To establish a trust, you need to have valid public certificate and an internet connected SharePoint farm – most of my clients could not do that because of that. In order to do security trimming the user needs a cloud and on-premises identity – in other words you need to sync your Active Directory to Azure AD (e.g. with dirsync) to get results back.

User Experience

The user experience is a little cumbersome in my eyes, because you don’t have a single, combined result set. Sorting and refining both works, but having two different rankings – or in other words: the two search systems shows the user the two best results – but there should be only one right?

Hybrid Inbound Search

On-premises results are shown in a result block

 

One-way Outbound Hybrid

That is the inverse setup of the inbound hybrid. Here the search center is on-premises and the search query will be additionally sent to SharePoint Online.

Challenge

The setup is almost the same as with the inbound hybrid – but you don’t need a reverse connection from SharePoint Online back to SharePoint On-Premises because each request is coming from SharePoint On-Premises.

User Experience

hybrid outbound

Remote results are shown in a result block

As already mentioned, this is the inverse setup, so everything from inbound hybrid applies here too.

Two-Way (inbound+outbound) Hybrid

You cant decide where to put your Search Center? Well then you should configure inbound and outbound hybrid search – so both Search Centers can show the results from both on-premises and SharePoint online.

Challenge

The challenge here is the setup efforts – but there are pretty good PowerShell scripts out there, please see the good reads section down below.

User Experience

The experience is the same as for inbound or outbound depending in what Search Center you are in.

Cloud Hybrid Search Service Application

Starting September 7th there is a new preview option available for hybrid search – the Cloud Hybrid Search Service Application – and that is my option a really big driver for hybrid scenarios! Once you configured the setup, basically you establish trust and configure a PushTenantManager you can delete your on-premises search index. Once you crawl, everything will be processed and sent to the cloud index and SharePoint Online takes care of the rest.

In the following screenshot you can see my on-premises Cloud Search Service Application up and running – from a UI perspective there is no directly visible indication that this is a cloud hybrid search service – except the name that I provided of course.

Searchable items: 0

Searchable items: 0 – No local index, no count.

What I really like here is the option to connect on-premises Content with SharePoint Online – you can even index SharePoint 2007 or SharePoint 2010 and bring it to your users. Fileshares – yes, that works too. Or imagine you have multiple farms in multiple countries – maybe even with weak network connections between them. Ever tried to remotely crawl a farm from Europe to Asia? Not the best experience, I can tell! But with the new cloud hybrid search service you can combine the index in the cloud – and get rid of some on-premises servers (less SharePoint Server licenses, less patching & maintenance, less hardware). Of course you need SharePoint Online licenses for your users tho – my went for E1 to get going.

Challenge

To set everything up, you need SharePoint 2013 with at least August 2015 Cumulative Update or SharePoint 2016. Then its basically the same step as configuring outbound hybrid, you setup the trust between on-premises SharePoint and SharePoint Online – and connect the PushTenantManager. Sounds complicated, but there is a Configure Hybrid Cloud Search Service Application that covers all that – the documentation is really good, best I have seen so far for a Preview.

Currently it’s not recommended to configure it on a production environment – on my DEV box it worked on the first try.

As of now there are some limitations for the new cloud hybrid search service, the following is not supported:

  1. Entity Extraction does not work
  2. No Content Enrichment / External Web Callout
  3. Index more than 2 million items – you might get throttled or blocked. That will change once the cloud search service is out of preview.
  4. Index at a high right – you might get throttled.
  5. Custom Security Trimming
  6. Remove search results by url

If you don’t use those features yet and not legally bound to stick on-premises it might be an option for you.

User Experience

The user experience is by far the best for this setup. The key point for me is that the user most of the time do not care if this content is from on-premises or SharePoint Online (or hidden in whatever information silo) – most of the times they even do not know it. Most importantly they get the most relevant result from all the available systems presented in the nice and customizable Search Center:

The results come from three different systems: SharePoint Online, SharePoint 2013 on-premises and a file share

No UI clutter with a single result block – perfect for many many users. I like it, too.

If you want to give the user the option to show only on-premises content you could easily add a new search vertical and bind a result source to it. The query for that source is IsExternalContent:1 to show SharePoint Online external results.

Another good thing here is that the search results appear very fast once they are index on-premises. For me it was instant, I was really surprised here.

Delve and the Office Graph

Currently the results are not visualized in Delve as content cards – but that will hopefully change in the near future. For me that really increases the value of Delve because currently our own intranet is on-premises and hidden from Delve. The more data the search engine gets, the better Delve gets, right?

Cloud Hybrid Search Service Application + One-way outbound Hybrid

At first I thought about labeling this option as “the perfect migration hybrid” – but perfect really depends on your requirements, right?

So as a benefit of establishing the trust between SharePoint Online and SharePoint on-premises during the setup of the cloud hybrid search service application you additionally set for outbound hybrid search. In other words: You can change the result source to SharePoint Online results and you will additionally get the cloud results on-premise, too. You have OneDrive for Business content in the cloud? You want the results searchable on premises? With that you can migrate and test the new cloud index – does it meet your requirements? – before shutting down your on-premises infrastructure without affecting the users. That is a nice quick win in my eyes here. I think we will try that very soon with our own intranet, once its production-ready.

The On-Premises Hybrid

Last but not least and for the sake of completeness – there are 3rd party connectors available to crawl SharePoint Online and make the results available on-premises.

Benefits of all this

The hybrid options give you a great opportunity to solve search challenges – from information silos, license costs to network latency. To get away from all technical stuff – the important point is that its easy for the end-user to find the relevant information, no matter where it’s stored. It must be simple and clutter-less, provide you with the latest and best results. Hybrid could be a great step forward.

Read more

You read so far and wand more? The following links helped me get started!

  1. Why Hybrid Crawl in SharePoint is a cold hot potato (Mikael Svenson´s view regarding hybrid crawling)
  2. The Five C’s of Enterprise Search (Agnes Molnar about Enterprise Search challenges, some points can be solved with a hybrid setup)
  3. Configure the hybrid infrastructure (Technet starting point for inbound and outbound)
  4. The all new Cloud Search service application coming to SharePoint 2013 and SharePoint 2016 (Ignite Introduction with video about the hybrid cloud search service application)
  5. Office 365: SharePoint Hybrid Configuration Wizard – SharePoint Escalation Services Team Blog (You want a wizard to configure hybrid? Good stuff!)
  6. Cloud Hybrid Search Service Application – SharePoint Escalation Services Team Blog (The most complete introduction I found so far, PowerShell scripts and all nicely documented – really good!)

Custom People Properties are not searchable

21 Nov 2015
November 21, 2015

This will be just a short one – maybe it saves somebody some time and grey hairs.

Situation

I created a new result source that boosts some properties of people profiles in search results. During staging I forgot to check the very important radio button that the result source is of type “People”.

PeopleSearch_Type

At first I did not notice that I forgot to check it – Search worked perfectly and returned people hits. But when you search for specific people profiles like office location or custom properties like e.g. costcenter – you get zero results or at least not those you would expect.

Moral of the story: read the tiny description texts 🙂

 

 

 

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