How to Integrate SharePoint with File Share Documents

SharePoint is without a doubt the most popular Content Management System (CMS) because of its centralized administration searching, indexing, workflows, and other powerful and easy to use features. Additionally, SharePoint is most often used as a document repository by companies.

However, in medium to large size companies, SharePoint is usually not the only document management system. There are many others being used including File Share, Documentum, eRoom, and more. By File Share, I mean all those situations in which documents are directly stored in the file system and made accessible through a network file sharing.

This creates islands of information instead of connecting everybody with each other. One reason is because users are only trained in their own document management system and tend to shy away from learning too many of them. Another issue is that more and more companies want additional features on their document repositories, features that SharePoint provides today. So, accessing those File Share documents from SharePoint becomes a necessity.

Now, it would be ideal if everybody moved their documents to SharePoint but as we know that is very unlikely in a large company. So, while migration may not be an option for you, the next best thing would be to integrate SharePoint with other document repositories and access all of them directly from within SharePoint.

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What I propose is that you first give SharePoint users access to other document repositories through SharePoint. They continue to use SharePoint and just see other repositories as special document libraries. This will at least ensure that SharePoint users are no longer disconnected from other repositories. Then, you can try to convince others to use SharePoint as their main document management interface even though their documents still reside in other non-SharePoint repositories.

So, how to achieve this integration of SharePoint with other document repositories? Well, StorageEdge provides a flexible SharePoint integration with File Share. We’re working on adding other document repositories to this integration but for now I’ll discuss File Share.

StorageEdge is SharePoint plug-in software that resides on Web Front End servers. It integrates File Share documents with SharePoint by importing their information or meta data into SharePoint content database. This enables SharePoint to index all of those documents so SharePoint users can then search them as if they were native SharePoint documents.

All File Share documents can be accessed from SharePoint as a document library and in this document library you can upload new documents that are then saved in the File Share. Similarly, any changes made to these File Share documents by third party applications are immediately reflected in SharePoint. Thus File Share documents are always synchronized with SharePoint.

In SharePoint, documents are maintained in a document library. Therefore, for integration StorageEdge configures an integration profile for each Document Library.

Select the SharePoint Document Library for integration with File Share.

Specify the File Share device to integrate with the Document Library.

And final step is to schedule synchronization job.  This job will synchronize document library with your File Share. And all your documents will be available in SharePoint Document library.

Once you configure StorageEdge, it will take care of all the rest for you and you can enjoy your SharePoint experience. In this manner you can improve user experience and your company document management with least bit of effort and worry.

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BLOBs Management on Remote Storage

Organizing SharePoint Content on remote storage locations after externalization is an important part of a typical day’s job of a SharePoint administrator. With as diverse options as Cloud based storage making inroads in our daily lives, it is not an option but a necessity to have enough armor available to you as an administrator to address all the challenges that accompany this diversification of storage; yet being able to deliver on performance and scalability expectations. Management of blobs on remote storage is a key aspect of storage management landscape. So I decided to explore some of the tools available on the market from the perspective of blob management on remote storage. StorageEdge appeared as one of the most feature rich among the lot as far as blob management on remote storage goes. Moreover, it was interesting to note that some of the features that I considered to be essential for blob externalization in one of my earlier post (link to “Top 10 Must Have Features for Blob Externalization”) have elaborately been covered. Let me share some of the interesting finds regarding effective blob storage management on remote storage in StorageEdge.

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Files and Folder Structure on Remote Storage

With StorageEdge, you can have the same folder structure on remote storage that you have in SharePoint. You can use auto generate folder and set a limit on the number of files per folder. Similarly, you can use same file names on remote storage as you have in SharePoint. This makes searching of the content easy and an experience which exactly matches to that of a local storage.

 

Figure 1: Files and Folders Management in StorageEdge on Remote Storage

 

You can identify whether the BLOBs are to be externalized in folders or not. It will help you to define the file name and the folder structure for your content. You can keep the data in the same file structure as in SharePoint. The options available are:

• “Do not create folders” externalizes the data in a flat structure; no folder hierarchy is defined.
• “Use SharePoint folder names” externalizes the data in the same hierarchy as on SharePoint.
• “Auto generate folders” auto-generates the folder/(s) with date time stamp.

“Use SharePoint file names” keeps the file name same as it was on SharePoint.

Encryption of Content

The BLOBs are encrypted and written to any external media such as cloud storage subsequently. StorageEdge supports encryption on a storage profile thus providing first layer of security to the externalized BLOBs. It supports DES-64bit or AES-128bit encryption.

File Shredding:

StorageEdge has a fool-proof file shredding mechanism coming into play when the BLOB is permanently deleted from SharePoint. It ensures that all permanently deleted content is irrecoverable using any third-party tools.

Compression:

StorageEdge provides for compression of BLOBs using GZip.

Figure 2: Compression in StorageEdge

Encrypted File Names:

File names encryption becomes especially important when you move the content to a storage media which is out of your enterprise such as in the cloud. StorageEdge hides your actual filenames, if you choose to do so, to keep your content safe.
So, StorageEdge effectively relieves you of the concerns of managing large volumes of data, some of which may even lie out of your premises.

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Top 10 Must Have Features for Blob Externalization

I have written extensively about the benefits of externalization. And, in my opinion, there is no denying that BLOB externalization offers you a panacea to your SQL Server related BLOB storage worries. After weighing the relative benefits and costs of externalization vs. retaining BLOBs in SQL Server in my previous posts such as here, the business case is generally pretty strong in favor of externalization.

However, if you decide to go down the path of BLOB externalization, your options are to either use Microsoft RBS Provider or go with one of third party RBS providers (like our product StorageEdge). Developing an RBS provider yourself is really not an option to even worth discussing. Therefore, it would be wise to know some important features in BLOB externalization that any RBS provider must have before you should commit to using it.

Trust me, BLOB externalization is much more than only moving the BLOBs from one storage location to another. There are a number of things that you need to properly externalize your BLOB content. A tool specifically meant to help you externalize your BLOB content and offering an enterprise level of features would be a highly recommended path to take. Let us discuss the most important, top 10 features that a BLOB externalization tool must provide for you to put in place an effective BLOB externalization strategy.

1. Online BLOB Migration: The single most important feature you should looking for while evaluating a tool for externalization is the ability to migrate the content out of database at runtime without stopping your SharePoint or slowing it down. Hundreds and maybe thousands of people are using SharePoint and looking for an extended downtime is not an option because BLOB migration will usually take a lot of time, too long for SharePoint to be down.

2. Storage Options: A good tool should allow you to migrate and store your BLOBs to a variety of storage options. These include file system, SAN/NAS disks, and Cloud Storage like Windows Azure Storage and others.

3. Multi-Tier BLOB Storage: Not all BLOBs are accessed all the time. So, it is quite costly to store them all in an expensive SAN/NAS discuss. It is much better to store only the active and more recent BLOBs in the expensive storage and keep the rest in one or cheaper storage options like file system or Cloud storage. A good tool must allow you to not only specify multiple storage tiers but also automatically archive and un-archive BLOBs from expensive to cheaper storage and back based on age, version, and usage patter of the BLOBs.

4. Storage Pools: A good tool should allow you to form pools of storage devices so if one device becomes full you can add more devices to this pool and the storage never become out of space. Without a storage pool, when your disk becomes full, you will have to uninstall it, copy all the data to a new larger disk, and install a new and larger disk. And, all of this requires downtime. A storage pool prevents that.

5. Security and encryption: Since you’ve moving BLOBs out of your SQL Server and into a file system environment (regardless of what storage type you choose underneath it), you need to make sure the third party tool allows you to secure the BLOBs. In this regard, keeping the entire BLOB storage place secured from unauthorized users and also encrypting the BLOBs through a variety of encryption algorithms is important.

6. Job Scheduling and Bandwidth Throttling: Since you’re going to be migrating BLOBs out of SQL Server while SharePoint is still running, it is very useful if you can schedule this migration in such a way that peak usage times are not negatively affected. Scheduling a job at night or weekends and specifying how fast or slow BLOBs should be migrated at different scheduled time intervals allows you to do all of that.

7. Filters, Folder naming and more: A good tool would provide you a rich set of filters to determine which BLOBs you want to move out of SQL Server and which ones you want to keep in the database. Additionally, filters should let you determine which storage tier to move the BLOBs to. For example, you might have a lot of large movie files that you would keep on cheaper storage while keeping recent PDFs on more expensive storage. Similarly, a good tool should let you keep your SharePoint file and folder names in the external storage so you could directly find your documents there if needed.

8. Revert BLOB migration: A good tool should be prepared for the situation where you may want to discontinue using it. So, it should allow you to “revert” all the BLOBs back into your SQL Server database if you choose to do so.

9. BLOB Compression: A good tool should allow you to compress BLOBs (optionally) and based on file sizes or file types in order to save disk space. This could help you reduce your storage cost if you’re using an expensive SAN/NAS disk. It could also help speed up things if you’re storing BLOBs in Cloud Storage which is far from your SharePoint Web Farm. Compressed BLOBs are smaller and travel faster.

10. Garbage Cleanup: You probably didn’t know this but when you move BLOBs out of SQL Server, the SharePoint architecture always creates a new BLOB whenever your update it. And, the older BLOBs are left hanging. So, to clean it up, a garbage cleanup is needed which a good tool must provide.

Needless to say, a good tool should run inside SharePoint Administration Console so it behaves and acts like a truly integrated product to SharePoint. And, I am happy to tell you that StorageEdge has all of the above features plus a lot more. So, do take a look at it.

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Why use On-Premises SharePoint with BLOB Storage in the Cloud?

SharePoint cloud storage can provide significant reduction in cost by drastically reducing the total costs of ownership of storage hardware and its associated management. It is interesting to examine the possible scenarios in which the potentials of cloud based storage … Continue reading

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Using Windows Azure for smarter BLOBs storage

Windows Azure Platform consists of three product brands. These are Windows Azure (an operating system providing scalable compute and storage facilities), SQL Azure (a cloud-based, scale-out version of SQL Server) and Windows Azure AppFabric. Unstructured data or BLOB storage is provided as part of Windows Azure Storage services. Some of the immediate benefits associated with SharePoint BLOB storage content in off-premises Windows Azure are:

1. Fault-tolerance: Replication of BLOBs to multiple locations makes Windows Azure BLOB storage highly resilient.
2. Cost Reduction: Operational costs associated with acquisition, operation and maintenance of storage hardware are immediately eliminated.
3. Flexibility: BLOBs can be consumed from anywhere.
4. Scalability: Windows Azure can offer virtually limitless storage space at minimal cost.
5. Seamless Integration: With solutions such as StorageEdge, the integration of SharePoint with Windows Azure based storage just becomes very simple (shown later in the article).

However, most IT Pros show immediate concerns for the control, security of the content, data access performance, in-sync backup/restore and storage service uptime. Since Azure-based storage means that you offload the BLOBs from SharePoint, lack of control regarding the management of storage is a natural consideration.

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The answer is to adopt a hybrid deployment approach, that is, to keep SharePoint on premise along with most commonly used BLOBs, and then store the older and less frequently used BLOBs in Windows Azure which can provide you significant cost reduction. Use of StorageEdge can help you gain additional comfort through a number of essential features while you move older documents out of your on premise infrastructure (discussed in the subsequent section).

SharePoint BLOB storage can be externalized to Windows Azure Storage using RBS based BLOB externalization facilities of StorageEdge.

Figure 1: SharePoint BLOBs Storage on Windows Azure

StorageEdge allows the enterprises to move SharePoint BLOBs from SQL Server to virtually any storage option including Windows Azure. StorageEdge helps overcome many of the risks and considerations associated with cloud storage. It allows you to create a healthy mix of data storage with some of the data hosted locally while some data offloaded to the cloud.

StorageEdge lets you externalize SharePoint BLOBs that you desire to Windows Azure Storage. In fact, with StorageEdge you can use a number of filters to automatically identify the right candidates for externalization. StorageEdge lets you create storage profile for Windows Azure to externalize the SharePoint BLOBs there. Following figure shows the GUI to configure a storage profile for externalizing content to windows Azure Storage.

Figure 2: Configure a Storage Profile for Windows Azure in StorageEdge

When you configure the storage profile for windows Azure, StorageEdge requires you mainly to set a Windows Azure Storage connection string containing the account name, key given by Microsoft and a container property.

Then, you can specify different types of criteria for externalizing BLOBs such as Age and Versions. Once the storage profile has been configured, you can immediately see the BLOBs being externalized to Windows Azure Storage.

Some of the additional important features you can use with Windows Azure Storage are:

1. Encryption of Content: The BLOBs are encrypted before writing to external storage. StorageEdge supports encryption on a storage profile thus providing first layer of security to the externalized BLOBs. It supports DES-64bit or AES-128bit encryption.

Figure 3: Encryption Settings in StorageEdge

2. File Shredding: The tool responsible for externalized BLOBs management must make sure all permanently deleted content is irrecoverable using any third-party tools. StorageEdge has a fool-proof file shredding mechanism coming into play when the BLOB is permanently deleted from SharePoint.

Figure 4: Shredding in StorageEdge

3. Compression: StorageEdge provides for compression of BLOBs using GZip.
4. Encrypted File Names: The BLOB management tool must be such as to ensure that the file names are encrypted. This becomes especially important when you move the content to a storage media which is out of your enterprise such as in the cloud.

So, StorageEdge takes care of your hybrid SharePoint infrastructure management needs with provision of enough control and flexibility. So having Windows Azure Storage as the mainstay of your BLOB archiving strategy, not only reduces storage costs, but it also improves SharePoint performance because the most active storage no longer contains a huge amount of documents that can potentially inundate it.

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Organize SharePoint Content on Remote Storage

With all and sundry blowing the trumpet of externalizing the BLOBs, I decided to explore one of the most important consideration for the SharePoint administrators – the management aspects of the externalized BLOBs. And as expected, StorageEdge didn’t disappoint me at all, rather it clearly stood out in its coverage of even the minute features which others found trivial. Let us go straight into some of its important features regarding management of BLOBs on remote storage.

Files and Folder Structure on Remote Storage

With StorageEdge, you can have the same folder structure on remote storage that you have in SharePoint. You can use auto generate folder and set a limit on the number of files per folder. Similarly, you can use same file names on remote storage as you have in SharePoint. This makes searching of the content easy and an experience which exactly matches to that of a local storage.

Figure 1: Files and Folders Management in StorageEdge on Remote Storage

You can identify whether the BLOBs are to be externalized in folders or not. It will help you to define the file name and the folder structure for your content. You can keep the data in the same file structure as in SharePoint. The options available are:

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  • “Do not create folders” externalizes the data in a flat structure; no folder hierarchy is defined.
  • “Use SharePoint folder names” externalizes the data in the same hierarchy as on SharePoint.
  • “Auto generate folders” auto-generates the folder/(s) with date time stamp.

“Use SharePoint file names” keeps the file name same as it was on SharePoint.

Encryption of Content

The BLOBs are encrypted and written to any external media such as cloud storage subsequently. StorageEdge supports encryption on a storage profile thus providing first layer of security to the externalized BLOBs. It supports DES-64bit or AES-128bit encryption. 

Figure 2: Encryption Settings in StorageEdge

File Shredding: StorageEdge has a fool-proof file shredding mechanism coming into play when the BLOB is permanently deleted from SharePoint. It ensures that all permanently deleted content is irrecoverable using any third-party tools. 

Figure 3: Shredding in StorageEdge

Compression: StorageEdge provides for compression of BLOBs using GZip.

 

Figure 4: Compression in StorageEdge

Encrypted File Names: File names encryption becomes especially important when you move the content to a storage media which is out of your enterprise such as in the cloud. StorageEdge hides your actual filenames, if you choose to do so, to keep your content safe.

StorageEdge promises a dependable management of your externalized content on remote storage. It not only ensures substantial cost savings with respect to you storage infrastructure, but also relieves you of the concerns of managing large volumes of data, some of which may even lie out of your premises.

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Move from EBS to RBS

SharePoint has seen such wide-scale adoption and enough empirical evidence is now available to establish that BLOB externalization outperforms in-SQL storage. BLOB storage in SQL Server hampers the overall performance of a SharePoint infrastructure. Microsoft first introduced External BLOB Storage (EBS) and then Remote BLOB Storage (RBS) in SQL Server 2008 R2, only as interface specifications, to let you take BLOBs out of SQL Server. StorageEdge fills the gap nicely as it provides enterprise-grade implementations for both EBS and RBS to offload BLOBs to inexpensive external storage.

A detailed comparative analysis between EBS and RBS has been provided in my earlier blog here. Primary difference is that RBS is implemented in SQL Server 2008 and has no direct relation to SharePoint, whereas EBS has been provided as a layer in SharePoint stack from where it talks to SQL Server. Moreover, RBS is not unique to SharePoint as it is available to any application using SQL Server, whereas EBS is SharePoint specific. RBS has Managed interface whereas EBS’s is unmanaged. And RBS has more permanence, as EBS is scheduled to be phased out in the next version of SharePoint; EBS has been deprecated in SharePoint 2010 already. So, for these reasons, RBS is being widely adopted by SharePoint administrators and are shifting their content to RBS.

EBS, for having been around for a good number of years, has remained in use for externalizing large volumes of BLOBs to inexpensive tiers of storage. With RBS, there is a viable alternative available to the SharePoint administrators to which they might choose to migrate. However, one consideration that can stop them to convert from EBS to RBS is the actual movement of such large caches of BLOBs from EBS to RBS. Certain providers require you to bring the content into SQL Server first, configure an RBS provider on SQL Server and then externalize again. This presents an impractical approach, as it is a huge challenge for TBs of data to achieve and shall have negative impact on the overall performance of the SharePoint infrastructure. So, traditional providers do not provide you with an easy conversion path from EBS to RBS.

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But StorageEdge does. Its tightly integrated architecture lets you to move from EBS to RBS, without actually moving your BLOB content. If your BLOBs have been externalized through EBS, and you desire to use move to RBS, you can use StorageEdge to convert to RBS with BLOBs being retained on the same external location. With StorageEdge, you are only required to enable RBS on the corresponding content database and specify the same storage profile settings and storage location as you have for EBS.

Figure 1: Convert EBS to RBS in StorageEdge

StorageEdge lets you do this in two easy steps:

  1. Select the Storage Profile for the SharePoint web application you want to convert to RBS.
  2. Select “Convert to RBS” option from drop down menu as shown below.

StorageEdge even lets you schedule this conversion job at a time, when your system resources are available, to avoid hampering SharePoint’s performance at peak usage times.

Figure 2: Schedule a Conversion from EBS to RBS in StorageEdge

So in a nutshell, StorageEdge makes life a lot easier whenever you choose to convert from EBS to RBS.

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To Externalize SharePoint BLOBs or Not?

A SharePoint administrator or an application designer is often faced with whether to externalize the BLOBs or not, and what architectural parameters to consider while making this decision. With the availability of frameworks such as EBS and RBS from Microsoft and enterprise solutions built around them such as StorageEdge, a lot of buzz abounds the SharePoint circles on offloading the BLOBs out of SQL Server. But there are arguments on both sides regarding whether to externalize the BLOBs or not. People who advocate taking an all out externalization path base their argument on the following benefits obtained through externalization:

1. Reduce database size and management – moving BLOBs out of the database reduces its size by as much as 95%. And, this alleviates various database administration problems that come with storing large number of BLOBs in it.

2. Reduced cost storage- moving the BLOBs out of expensive teir-1 storage to less expensive, non-transactional storage introduces visible cost savings. Read here for a primer.

3. Better storage management – hierarchical storage on multiple tiers yields proper BLOBs management and archiving based on multiple criteria. Read here more. And you always have the option of exploiting the benefits of underlying storage platform as well.

4. Not all data is alike – You cannot treat all your data alike. It is an unwise proposition to keep stale or infrequently-accessed data in transactional tiers of storage.

5. Performance improvement in overall SharePoint access – SQL Server, despite being a high-performing resource manager, performs inadequately when it comes to large streams of unstructured data. SQL doesn’t support a data file of more than 200 GB and needs to be split. Write operations are particularly latency-inducing as the BLOBs are written first to transaction log and then in the table. The net effect is a poorly-responsive infrastructure.

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Contrary to the above, people who believe otherwise base their arguments on:

1. Management of multiple data sources – Since due to externalization, the content is separated from the metadata, it induces challenges of management and synchronization.

2. Storing files in SQL Server is easier from a back-office management perspective.

3. Backup and restore challenges – Due to introduction of multiple storage platforms, challenges of backup and restore and managing consistency across all crops up. Read here more.

Empirical evidence has established that the advantages of externalization out-weigh the advantages of in-SQL BLOB storage, for most of the SharePoint installations, which essentially is a document-centric facility with multiple types of content involving varying sizes and characteristics. I have seen customers enjoying an immediate cost saving with respect to their storage investments ranging in 7 to 8 figures.

However, not all content is a good candidate for externalization. There are a number of architectural parameters, which you need to carefully consider, before deciding “which” of your BLOBs may be externalized. Read here for a discussion on which of your unstructured data is a good candidate for externalization and under what circumstances.

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Which BLOBs to Externalize?

In an earlier debate here, I had talked about the fact the although there is a very strong case in favor of externalizing the BLOBs out of SQL Server to inexpensive tiers of storage for most of the SharePoint installations, there are certain BLOBs and architectural situations still which would require you to act otherwise. “Which BLOBs to externalize?” generally gets a traditional response, that prevails among the practitioners. That is, the databases are better suited for small objects while filesystems are suitable for large objects. SQL Server is particularly optimized for 8KB or less structured data, but SharePoint usually carries documents larger in size. For small, structured data, database queries are faster than opening files and opening large files on filesystem is faster than accessing large BLOBs in database.

This approach may work for many typical SharePoint installations, but not many quantitative benchmarks are available to establish it across all types of SharePoint architecture, SharePoint storage and SharePoint content. Moreover, boundary between “small” or “large” is pretty fuzzy as well. Not all SharePoint content being a good candidate for externalization, you should consider a number of parameters, before deciding “which” of your BLOBs may be externalized. So, naturally a very important parameter is the BLOB size.

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A research report, a little old but still relevant, from Microsoft Research available here summarizes the correlation between BLOB size and its appropriate storage location in the form of following benchmarks:

• BLOBs less than 256KB are more efficiently stored in the database
• Files larger than 1MB are more efficiently stored in the file system
• Content between 256KB and 1MB could be stored in either, but it is better to leave it on the filesystem.

So, generalizing, firstly if you have very few large (> 256KB) documents, you might want to retain them on SQL Server provided that the total size doesn’t exceed 200GB. However, in a typical SharePoint environment, this is hardly the case. Secondly, If more than half of your BLOBs are large (>256KB), then externalize all of them. The third situation is more likely to occur where you have a variety of sizes in SharePoint repositories. In an ideal case, you must have a way to filer content based on both individual file sizes and the need to keep the overall data file size below 200GB.

In a medium to large scale SharePoint environment, there can be millions of documents with varying sizes and accumulating in TBs. In such a case, you should consistently and reliably be able to separate the documents which you want to externalize from the ones which you want to retain inside the SQL Server in an configure-once, use-repeatedly setting. In fact, this is only possible if you use a solution tightly integrated with SharePoint and is more than a standalone EBS or RBS provider such as StorageEdge. StorageEdge allows you to filter content based on a number of criteria when you want to externalize it. It has size-based, filename-based and author-based filtering options to externalize the contents based on the benchmarks provided earlier in this discussion.

BLOB Filter

BLOB Filter

Figure 1: Filters in StorageEdge for Content Externalization

In addition to the above-mentioned size based benchmarks, which should work well for most of the SharePoint systems, you must also consider that within these ranges, how much of the BLOB payload is write-intensive, and the BLOB retention age.

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How to Archive SharePoint Documents for Compliance

Organizations are often faced with the challenge of storing and retaining documents for compliance purposes for varying durations. Dealing with SEC, HIPAA, SOX, or DOD compliance requirements call for a reliable archiving and retention storage architecture. Administrators cannot afford any tampering with those documents.

SharePoint is primarily a document-centric solution and offers excellent collaboration and publishing features. However, it can present significant challenges in meeting the regulatory requirements for storage, retention and discovery. SharePoint’s built-in storage architecture fails to meet the level of compliance needed by the organizations. However, with the availability of RBS providers in your SharePoint infrastructure, these shortcomings can be overcome by separating BLOBs from the content metadata and exploiting vast possibilities of external storage and retention.

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There are different compliance requirements scenarios. One of the key among them is that you have to archive and retain certain types of documents and BLOBs in separate isolated storage. Archiving BLOBs in separate storage for compliance purposes ensures that these BLOBs are not accidentally deleted from SharePoint by users because a copy of the documents is kept in this separate retention archive from where they can be restored by SharePoint administrators.

Similarly, in many situations, you have documents that you must preserve for a predetermined period for regulatory compliance reasons and then they have to be automatically deleted from SharePoint. An example of this is current contracts and agreements in a financial, insurance, or other similar industry. On the other hand, certain compliance frameworks might require that some documents be automatically deleted after certain period of time has elapsed such as financial information that you don’t want to keep for legal purposes.

SharePoint Compliance

SharePoint Compliance

Figure 2: BLOB Retention for Compliance Purposes

However, not all RBS providers for SharePoint allow you the “archive” and “retain” capability at the same time; for such providers, “Archive” only means moving the BLOBs from storage tier to another.  Any SharePoint RBS provider that gives you this retention plus archiving capability must let you specify a separate storage, which is an archive to be used ONLY for retaining documents. StorageEdge has been built keeping in view these important considerations. It allows you to store compliance-related content enabling comprehensive management of SharePoint content throughout its lifecycle. It lets you create a retention archive which is protected for all regular SharePoint operations, either in the form of WORM (Write-Once-Read-Many) or only for the SharePoint administrators to access it.

Moreover, a good RBS provider must give you the ability to specify filters on which documents to put in retention archive. These filters could be on name, extension, size, content type, ownership, and more. The main idea is to give you real control over specifying which documents you want to archive and which to retain. StorageEdge gives SharePoint administrators flexibility and control over when, where, why, and how SharePoint content BLOBs are stored through application of filters. You can store BLOBs on multiple tiers of storage, according to a wide range of criteria including size, age, number of retained versions, changes in metadata or state (e.g. completed), file type (e.g. PDF, TIF, etc), content type and so on, meeting both operational and compliance needs.

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