As you know, SharePoint stores all its documents in SQL Server database as BLOBs. But, since SharePoint is a document-heavy product, the SQL Server database very quickly becomes too large to manage and also slows down SharePoint. To handle this, Microsoft first introduced EBS in SharePoint 2007 and eventually embraced this concept in SQL Server 2008 RS as RBS FileStream Provider which allows you to store BLOBs in an external storage and free up the database.
RBS FileStream Provider in SharePoint makes use of this SQL Server RBS API to externalize BLOBs. However, this SQL Server FileStream provider only satisfies a very basic set of needs of BLOB management and lacks many important functions that are essential for a real-life SharePoint deployment. Here are some limitations:
Limitations of FileStream provider with RBS
FileStream Provider only allows for storing BLOBs on the same location as your SQL Server data files and therefore does not reduce I/O burden. In fact, it slows things down even further in some cases.
- FileStream Provider only offers a basic level of garbage collection.
- RBS FileStream Provider doesn’t support multiple storage tiers to help you optimize your storage cost (see my blog on SharePoint Archiving with multiple storage tiers).
- No compression or encryption options are afforded.
- RBS FileStream Provider is only supported in SharePoint 2010.
- Much more…
So before using the RBS FileStream Provider, you should be very careful in analyzing the costs of its limitations.
On the other hand, StorageEdge provides a much superior alternative to the RBS FileStream Provider. Here are some important benefits of using StorageEdge FileStream Provider.
Benefits of Using StorageEdge RBS FileStream Providers
You can externalize BLOB content on any SAN, NAS and even Cloud Storage.
- StorageEdge RBS FileStream Providers also allows you to apply filters to the externalized content so you don’t need to externalize everything.
- Encryption and Compression are also supported.
- It supports throttling of various activities reducing their impact on performance in peak times.
- It also provides a rich administration interface from within SharePoint.
- Organize the externalized content in personalized folder structure.
- File names are available in externalized content. This feature is not supported in RBS FileStream Provider. You don’t know the actual name of the externalized file on disk as it is always a GUID.
Thus StorageEdge ensures that the burden of managing BLOBs is effectively off-loaded from the SQL Server.
In a nutshell, externalizing BLOBs is much more than simply using a SharePoint RBS FileStream provider. The solution you choose must provide all the required features to let you handle complex situations of a real-life SharePoint deployment.