Build a SharePoint Server 2016 Hybrid Lab

SharePoint Server 2016 has been out there for a while. One big feature of it is the hybrid configuration with Office 365. To understand how it works, I built a lab environment based on Azure VMs and a trial subscription of Office 365. Here is how I did it.


To build a lab environment for hybrid solutions, you need the following components in place.

  • An Office 365 subscription. A trial is fine.
  • A public domain name. The default <yourcompany> domain that you get from the O365 subscription won’t work in hybrid scenarios. You have to register a public domain if you don’t have one.

Configure Office 365

In order to configure the hybrid environment, you must register a public domain with your O365 subscription. The process is like you go to your O365 subscription and kick start a setup process. O365 will generate a TXT value. You need to create a TXT record in the DNS of your domain vendor with that value, and then ask O365 to verify it. Once the domain is verified, the domain is register with your O365 subscription successfully. More details can be found here.

You don’t need to create those DNS records for mail exchange such as MX etc. if you just want to test SharePoint hybrid scenarios. You only need to create them if you also want to test the mailbox features.

The next step is to configuration AD sync between your on-premise AD and the Azure AD created with your O365 subscription. You can configure the Azure AD Connect tool to do it. And for a lab environment, AD sync with password sync is good enough. You can also try AD sync SSO if you have an AD FS to play with.

Before kicking start the AD sync, you might have to do some cleaning on AD attributes. I changed the following:

  • Add a valid and unique email address in the proxyAddresses attribute.
  • Ensure that each user who will be assigned Office 365 service offerings has a valid and unique value for the userPrincipalName attribute in the user’s user object.

With the cleaning done, you can start to sync the AD. You should be able to see users account in the O365 admin center after syncing.

Configure SharePoint Server 2016

Deploy the SharePoint Server 2016 farm. You can try the MinRole deployment if you have multiple servers. In my lab, I just deployed a single server.

The following service applications are required for the hybrid scenarios.

  • Managed Metadata Service
  • User Profile Service with user profile sync and MySite host.
  • App Management Service
  • Subscription Settings Service
  • Search Service for hybrid search scenario

The user profile properties need to have the following mapping:

  • User Principal Name property is mapped to userPrincipalName attribute.
  • Work email property is mapped to mail attribute.

Configure Hybrid

Once you have the O365 and SharePoint Server 2016 ready, you can start to configure the hybrid. It is fairly simple with the help of Hybrid Picker of SharePoint Online. You just need to go to SharePoint admin center of O365, click configure hybrid and pickup a hybrid solution, follow the wizard. If everything is ok, you will get the hybrid configured. Browse to an on-premise site, and you should see the app picker like the screenshot below.

Next Step

Next thing to try is to configure the server to server trust and the cloud hybrid search. Stay tuned.