How to Reduce SharePoint Storage Cost with BLOB Offloading

Data loses its value as it gets older. The reference data which is less frequently used grows exponentially as compared to active data with the passage of time. Treating all this data alike has a negative impact on the costs of storing it as it leads to higher costs and less than optimal utilization of your storage infrastructure.

For a SharePoint environment, this problem is further aggravated by BLOB storage. Coming from a SharePoint Administrator background, I have seen numerous installations of SharePoint that suffer from issues related to management of large volumes of BLOBs, whether new or old. So, despite huge investments in the storage infrastructure, the users end up with a poorly-performing-yet-high-cost SharePoint storage infrastructure.

So, you need to align your storage options across two lines of action. Firstly, adopt the most appropriate storage tier for the data being stored and secondly, keep the data growth in line with its frequency of access.

BLOBs generally consume 95% of the SQL Server storage in SharePoint.  Although SQL Server is a high performance resource manager, when it comes to large binary data streams, it no longer remains a viable option. In SharePoint, a large proportion of content is documents stored as BLOBs. And, unfortunately SQL Server, like all other relational databases, was not designed to handle such large amounts of unstructured data. As a result, a number of problems usually occur.

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As the data file size grows larger than 200 GBs, SQL Server performance degrades considerably which results in a poorly-responsive SharePoint environment. Similarly, storing all the BLOBs in SQL Server is not cost effective as SQL Server storage is typically very expensive. So, it is essential that you should store BLOBs on a lesser expensive storage tier that can manage unstructured data.

Similarly, considering the high costs that the storing of older BLOBs in high-end storage can cause, it is unwise to treat all the BLOBS alike in terms of its storage.

The above situation calls for simply offloading the SharePoint BLOBs payload from expensive, transactional storage to less expensive external storage as it will give you visible cost savings. An effective approach for the storage of externalized BLOBs can be to structure the external storage as a hierarchy of multiple tiers in the form of a hierarchical storage management system (HSM), with one storage tier corresponding to one age-based category of BLOBs.

StorageEdge precisely lets you do that. It has been built keeping the above-mentioned BLOB storage consideration in perspective. It provides multi-tiered storage that allows you to offload your active content in the most expensive storage and archives older content out to less expensive storage.

multi-tiered storage

multi-tiered storage

Figure 1: multi-tiered storage

So, by having an intelligent, reliable facility to offload SharePoint BLOBs in multi-tiered storage, you are able to control your storage cost in alignment with the business needs as you are able to grow you storage options in an incremental manner. You can expect great cost savings if your storage system can continue to move older BLOBs to less expensive storage tiers.

Surprisingly, it also improves SharePoint performance because the most active storage (meaning your Tier-1) no longer contains all those huge amount of documents that would have overwhelmed it. In a nutshell, externalizing BLOBs from SharePoint is not an option; rather it is a necessity for the best use of your SharePoint to perform. StorageEdge lets you achieve that with an absolute ease.

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