SharePoint, as the name suggests, means a place to share something. True to its name, SharePoint is essentially a document-centric collaboration platform, supporting sharing of documents, reports, calendars, lists, announcements and other publishable material. However, despite all the niceties, SharePoint has its fair share of limitations too. An important one of them is the way it manages unstructured content.
The content database of SharePoint in MS SQL Server holds all the unstructured content in the form of BLOBs. As BLOBs increase, the performance of SQL Server degrades considerably as it not optimized to carry such a large payload of unstructured data. BLOBs can have a real impact on SharePoint’s overall performance. Importing an existing cache of legacy content in a SharePoint infrastructure may result in further compromising the performance. Moving of terra-bytes of legacy content to SharePoint may take months to complete. Your content database becomes huge and unmanageable, and hence performance degrades.
So, when porting this legacy content to SharePoint, the organizations are presented with a two-faceted problem, the import of legacy content into SharePoint and then its storage. The latter can be tackled by off-loading the BLOB content to multiple, inexpensive tiers of storage, using an enterprise-grade RBS or EBS provider, such as the one provided by StorageEdge.
For the former, there can be multiple approaches. One crude approach can be to bring the content into the SharePoint content database first, store it as BLOB and then externalize it using either EBS or RBS. But as discussed earlier, the SQL Server is not optimized to work with such huge BLOB payload. This two-step approach shall bring in serious performance issues.
A better alternative can be to somehow be able to reference it in SharePoint, without actually moving it to the content database, and treating it as externalized content. This approach offers immediate benefits. No transactional overhead occurs on the SQL Server as no actual BLOB movement occurs. The database stays manageable in size. The expensive database storage is not utilized; rather the content stays at the inexpensive storage. Only relevant indexes are updated and the content gets automatically externalized.
StorageEdge affords an intelligent approach while importing legacy content. StorageEdge provides such tools which makes this content import real quick. Instead of physically moving the content from the legacy storage to database, it lets the data stay on the storage media and updates the relevant references and indexes. It even allows your application to use these documents from SharePoint during the import process.
In addition, StorageEdge allows for the creation of multiple tiers of Storage, allow policies for retention and movement of content between the tiers, and apply various filters to the externalized content. It allows for throttling of migration activity making it efficient, without impacting the performance of in peak times.
Moving of unstructured legacy data into SharePoint can be a hugely resource-consuming activity if not managed properly. However, when done right, the legacy content can easily be made accessible through SharePoint without degrading the overall performance.