The Challenge of User Profiles in a Hybrid Topology
Deploying a hybrid topology can greatly assist businesses and their users get full value out of both platforms, but it also presents some challenges. User Profiles and the whole Social story might be the thorniest of them all. User Profiles have been an important part of SharePoint for many years, and – love ’em or hate ’em –they’re crucial to several workloads. For example, they’re necessary for My Sites as well as for the SharePoint social features. When you engage in the social features, the data is stored with the user’s profile. SharePoint User Profiles are not, however, part of the hybrid story. It is not possible for both SharePoint on-premises and SharePoint Online to share the same user profile and user profile data. This means that each is environment is its own profile island – and this can be very confusing for users.
When configuring Hybrid, we at Summit 7 usually recommend that customers choose one environment or the other to host User Profiles and Social. One would carry the workload and the other would have profile-dependent features disabled (such as social). It certainly is not ideal, but it can ease some significant pain. Since businesses normally want to take full advantage of OneDrive for Business, this means that SharePoint Online is usually chosen to own the User Profile and Social workloads. In fact, I have yet to see a customer choose otherwise.
If SharePoint Online is chosen as the owner of these workloads, it becomes necessary to configure the on-premises farm to send users away from the on-prem farm. This, however, can be very challenging. When a user clicks About Me up in the Suite Bar, or if they click on a person’s name on a page, how do you send the user to the profile in SharePoint Online instead of on-premises?
Download custom code written by Brian Laws that accompanies the Microsoft SharePoint Online for Office 365 - Administering and configuring for the cloud book by Bill English.