By Trevor Hellebuyck
There is no doubt that content stored in SharePoint is growing at a rapid pace. Recent survey data indicates that SharePoint deployments larger than 1TB are now the norm. When you factor in average growth rates between 50-75 percent, it becomes clear that the growth of SharePoint content isn't slowing down anytime soon.
Growth Means More to Back Up
With this rapid growth comes a dependency on SharePoint as a mission-critical collaboration and content management platform.
SharePoint use has evolved from a better file share to a mission-critical platform that is in many ways as vital as email.
The critical nature of SharePoint drives requirements for a low tolerance for data loss and short recovery times.
However, the growth of SharePoint creates challenges for organizations attempting to reduce their backup and recovery times. In fact, many of the SharePoint sizing guidelines and boundaries exist as an attempt to maintain reasonable backup and restore timeframes.
In most cases, the larger your SharePoint environment the longer it will take to back up.
Size Disrupts Strategy
The critical nature of SharePoint is forcing organizations to reduce their Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recover Time Objective (RTO). RPO relates to the maximum acceptable data loss where RTO relates to the maximum acceptable recovery time.
Reducing RPO and RTO can prove to be challenging with large SharePoint environments due to the time it takes to back up and subsequently restore data in the event of a data loss event. For example, if it takes six hours to back up your farm, you can't meet a four-hour RPO.
Your SharePoint content storage strategy can have a significant impact on your ability to meet Recover Point Objectives.
By default, SharePoint content is stored within SQL Server databases. This design creates scenarios in which content growth negatively impacts backup speeds and where unchanged content is being backed up on a regular basis further slowing the backup process.
Changing the Game: Remote BLOB Storage
By leveraging Remote BLOB Storage (RBS) you can change the backup game and reduce the time it takes to backup multi-terabyte SharePoint farms.
RBS provides organizations with the ability to store content (unstructured data or files known as Binary Large Objects, or BLOBs) outside of SQL Server databases.
Since unstructured content typically represents 90 percent or more of your SharePoint farm, offloading this content to optimized storage devices creates an opportunity to change the way that you back up the majority of your SharePoint farm.
RBS allows organizations to optimize their SharePoint content storage strategy by storing content on the most appropriate storage system based on cost, performance, recoverability, and redundancy requirements.
By moving BLOBs from within SQL Server databases to optimized storage environments, organizations can now take advantage of backup and recovery approaches not previously available.
Metadata is still contained within SQL Server databases; however, the size of the metadata is kept relatively small when compared to the externalized content.
Using traditional SharePoint or database backup approaches in conjunction with data protection capabilities (replication, snapshots, and mirroring) of optimized storage devices, you can now back up multi-terabyte farms in a matter of minutes.
It is important that when considering the use of RBS that you synchronize the backup and recovery processes for externalized BLOBs and metadata contained with SharePoint Content Databases.
The Key: Offloading BLOBs
An optimized SharePoint content storage strategy provides the crucial ability to reduce costs, improve performance, and significantly decrease the time it takes to back up your SharePoint environment.
By leveraging the capabilities of Remote BLOB Storage, the basic concept of storing BLOBs outside of SQL Server databases gives way to an entirely new approach for SharePoint backup. BLOB data comprises the vast majority of your SharePoint storage requirement.
Offloading your BLOBs to optimized storage devices is the key to unlocking new backup approaches that can significantly reduce your backup times and meet aggressive Recover Point Objectives demanded by today’s mission-critical SharePoint environments.
Trevor Hellebuyck is a recognized SharePoint innovator and the principal architect of StoragePoint, the ground-breaking storage optimization software for SharePoint, and leads the Metalogix cross-product technology integration and new product innovation planning initiatives. Trevor joined Metalogix in 2010 with the acquisition of BlueThread Technologies and currently serves as the company’s Chief Technology Officer.