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Are you experiencing a "SoapException: System.NullReferenceException" while trying to use a Search Server (Sharepoint) webservice? In our case this error started occuring on our test environment. Eventually we found out that this problem didn't occur if we called the Web service by hostname and not ip adress. How we fixed it:

On the (Sitecore) webserver we added a hostfile line to point to the Search Server IP adress and hostname (in this case evi-test-search):
82.xx.xx.xx evi-test-search

On the Search Server we added the following to the hostname: evi-test-search

Next we made sure our webservice "url" setting was referring to the hostname:
queryService.Url = ConfigurationSettings.AppSettings"SearchServerQuery_Url";
< add key="SearchServerQuery_Url" value="http://evi-test-search/_vti_bin/search.asmx" / >

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