Microsoft has released an update for SharePoint Server 2013 that provides a new hybrid crawling feature for search. One of the biggest challenges we face in a move towards the cloud is having a fragmented search experience. Prior to this release, multiple searches had to be conducted across repositories, and there was no way to merge the relevancy rankings. Relevancy scores for on premises results did not merge with the scores from the cloud, so there was no single top-down view of search results. With this release, that is now possible.
My take is that this is not all roses as it may appear. This new feature will “index all your crawled content, including on-premises content, to your search index in Office 365.” This is certainly a step in the right direction from Microsoft, but I’m not sure I where I stand in regards to the approach. The question is in the details of indexing, and how much information gets passed up to Office 365. The potential downside – you may have now created a copy of your on premises content in the cloud, exposing the very legal risks that may have led you to refrain from moving that content to the cloud in the first place.
This functionality will enter the public preview phase in September, and we will get a better look at how this is implemented, and how it can be tuned. The end result may be a walled garden inside our firewall that does not get crawled and has to be searched separately.