Do you have a Storage Strategy for SharePoint?
With storage so readily available and relatively inexpensive nowadays, a storage strategy within organisations can sometimes be as simple as “Let’s buy more!”. I remember my early days of consulting and visiting customers to implement our latest leading-edge technology with six floppy disks in tow, whereas today most people walk around with enough storage space on their phone/mp3 player to service a small company.
We are now living in the Information Age and people’s attitudes toward storage have changed; just compare your inbox to 5-10 years ago. Here at Axceler, my email quota was recently increased from 500MB (how did I survive with that?) to 2GB….my Gmail account is 7.5 GB….My Hotmail account “includes email storage that expands to provide you with as much storage space as you need. Your inbox capacity will automatically increase as you need more space”. Why should I delete anything? I might need it at some point? (I hope my IT admin is not reading this).
So if storage is so readily available what’s the problem? Well in terms of SharePoint, there are a number of potential issues:
If you have a clear strategy for your MetaData and Taxonomy within SharePoint, maybe you are using the SP2010 Managed Metadata Service, then you can certainly make your data findable but the principal of garbage in/garbage out still applies.
Obviously as the amount of content grows, the more work your servers will have to do to serve that information to your users. I was at a client recently where they were having some performance issues so we did some investigation and found document libraries with several thousand versions of Excel files (one single file and its many versions was over 5GB in size).
Again, it’s fairly obvious but as the amount of data increases the longer your regular backups will take, and the impact that will have on your environment.
So what’s the solution? The key is a combination of technology and education.
From a technology point of view it is important to plan your architecture in order to scale to an amount of data that could be potentially uploaded into SharePoint. There are a number of boundaries and limitations that you should be aware of in terms of capacity, but with the correct design and configuration SharePoint can support a very large amount of data.
It’s also important to have clear visibility into how your environment is growing and to be aware of objects that near those boundaries and thresholds. You might want to take a look at our SharePoint management solution ControlPoint which has lots of reports and alerts for monitoring storage across the SharePoint platform.
ControlPoint collects lots of data from SharePoint that give greater insight into the usage of the environment, which will allow for smarter infrastructural decisions around capacity planning.
Putting together a governance strategy around storage optimisation is also important, and if you have done so then you should be preforming regular reviews to check that the policies are being adhered to, and make amendments where necessary.
For example, you may have chosen to enforce storage quotas across you departmental team sites but find that the Marketing site needs far more storage than the Finance site due to the large, graphic heavy, content that Marketing upload into SharePoint. Therefore, you may need to increase quotas where it makes business sense.
You may also want to consider a Remote Blob Store (RBS) if you are going to be uploading large files into SharePoint. Using SQL content databases to store large files is not cost effective when the data could be externalised in non-transactional storage.
So this leads on to the educational side. If you have devolved administration of sites to power users then ensure that you educate them as to how the site should be used and configured. For example, only enable versioning were necessary and do not enable audit logging unless absolutely necessary.
For end users, educate them as to what content should be uploaded into SharePoint. I was speaking with a customer recently that discovered that their My Sites were growing rapidly due to the large amount of video files that were being uploaded.
So to summarise, your storage strategy should take into consideration:
- What content should your users be storing in SharePoint?
- Where should this content be stored (SQL/BLOB)?
- Should site quotas be used?
- What level of auditing and versioning should be implemented?
- How do I go about monitoring storage and planning for future growth?
To see how Axceler can help with your Storage optimisation check out our management solutions.