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Five SharePoint storage performance killers and how to fix them

Leveraging data externalisation can improve performance and reduce costs

March 6, 2012 – Rapid user adoption is positive for any organisation leveraging SharePoint for content collaboration and version control. As user adoption increases, however, so does the amount of data that must be stored in SharePoint. Content overload can wreak havoc on SharePoint infrastructure and can become a leading cause of poor performance – not to mention the corresponding management headaches. For example, as the amount of content steadily increases, so does the need to scale database capacity and SQL Server processing power to ensure that performance matches user demand. When this happens, organisations face a dilemma: cope with poor SharePoint performance, or bite the bullet and buy additional SQL storage space and computing power to catch up with demand. Luckily, there is a third alternative.

Quest Software, a leading provider of SharePoint tools for the enterprise, has identified five common storage performance killers in SharePoint that organisations fall victim to and suggests an easy, cost-effective alternative for resolving SharePoint content overload – data externalisation.

Five performance killers in SharePoint storage:
1. Unstructured data takeover – most SharePoint content is saved in SQL Server as unstructured data, otherwise known as BLOBs (Binary Large Objects). It takes extra processing power and time to read data from these files, and yet, they contribute to nearly 95 per cent of storage overhead in SharePoint content databases.* Simply put, unstructured data is taking over SQL Server space. 

2. An avalanche of large media – SharePoint is not optimised to house large media files such as videos, images and PowerPoint presentations. As more of this content is stored in SharePoint, it amplifies the likelihood that users will experience browser timeout, slow web server performance and upload and recall failures.

3. Old and unused files hogging valuable SQL storage – it’s not uncommon for the majority of SharePoint content to go completely unused for long periods of time. Many organisations waste space by applying the same storage treatment for old, unused data as they do for new, active content. 

4. Not building to scale – as SharePoint content grows, its supporting hardware can become under powered if growth rates were not accurately forecasted from the start. Organisations unable to invest in new hardware need to find alternatives that enable them to adhere to best practices and keep SharePoint performance optimal.

5. Not leveraging Microsoft’s data externalisation features – many organisations have not yet explored Microsoft’s recommended externalisation capabilities, Remote BLOB Storage (RBS) and External BLOB Storage (EBS), and, therefore, are missing out on significant storage and related performance benefits. 

Leveraging data externalisation to improve performance and reduce costs
* By taking advantage of Microsoft’s data externalisation features, SharePoint administrators are able to move large, old, and unused data from a SQL Server content database to  secondary, less expensive repositories, all while keeping the data accessible to end users via SharePoint.

* Quest Software will soon release the next version of Storage Maximiser for SharePoint, a solution that fully supports both RBS and EBS data externalisation. Storage Maximiser lets administrators optimise SharePoint storage to meet the performance requirements of end users.

Bill Evans, vice president and general manager, SharePoint business, Quest Software, said, “Many organisations today aren’t taking advantage of data externalisation capabilities provided by Microsoft and supported by third party vendors like Quest Software.  A good number of end-user performance complaints are directly related to storage, which is why Quest Software feels it’s important to educate the market on the value of these capabilities and offer guidance on how tiered storage can economically help fix those issues.”


About Quest Software
Established in 1987, Quest Software (Nasdaq: QSFT) provides simple and innovative IT management solutions that enable more than 100,000 global customers to save time and money across physical and virtual environments.  Quest products solve complex IT challenges ranging from database management, data protection, identity and access management, monitoring, user workspace management to Windows management.

Quest, Quest Software and the Quest logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Quest Software in the United States and certain other countries.  All other names mentioned herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.

* MSDN, “Improving SharePoint with SQL Server 2008,” August 19, 2008