One of the most challenging aspects of information communication technology (ICT) is managing the prolific amounts of data generated by organisations on a daily basis.
Add to that the fact that collaboration has become a fundamental requirement with increased sharing of information and documents, and it becomes clear why companies are perpetually looking for better ways to manage and store information.
This is according to Chris Hathaway, director at Soarsoft Africa. FileShare solved some of these problems, then the Microsoft SharePoint platform proved more effective – but migration is not pain free.
Soarsoft Africa believes that Metalogix's purpose built solution, StoragePoint, can assist not only to ease the pain of migration but also enhance SharePoint performance.
FileShare allows people to work in a collaborative environment. However, exponentially increasing data creates a challenge as FileShare does not include version control, auditing and retention management. As a result, companies are moving to the Microsoft SharePoint platform. But this platform too has not been left unscathed by the data explosion.
SharePoint is an excellent platform for companies that work in a collaborative environment but challenges are experienced when it comes to storing large volumes of content which places a strain on the database, which in turn creates a host of issues.
Among others, this makes it difficult to scale; the backup/restore timeframes can be lengthy; it is difficult to achieve regulatory compliance with regards to data retention; and storing the content on tier 1 storage is costly.
Fortunately, technology is available to resolve key issues, most notably taking the pain out of migrating from legacy FileShare/Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solutions to a SharePoint platform, or migrating from SharePoint 2007 to SharePoint 2010.
In addition, this technology allows companies to store their information in a smarter way that is more cost effective, is compliant to a variety of legislation and improves the speed and performance of SharePoint.
Metalogix, a company that delivers solutions for comprehensive content lifecycle management, has addressed these challenges with StoragePoint. It leverages SharePoint's architecture to address the issues that result from storing too much data in a single database, and at the same time eases the pain of migrating to a new platform or version of SharePoint.
BLOB offload anyone?
Content is saved on SharePoint in structures called Binary Large Objects, more commonly known as BLOBs, which includes Word/Excel documents, PDFs and images, among others, that are stored in the SQL database. StoragePoint allows organisations to "remote BLOB" or "BLOB offload", freeing up the database significantly and enabling the company to scale easily.
Essentially, these functions allow the company to move the content to more appropriately priced storage and improve content upload and retrieval speed and performance. Rule of thumb guidance for organisations is that if they are reaching anywhere between 1Tb to 2Tb of content, they should look towards "BLOB offload".
StoragePoint allows these BLOBs to be stored outside of the SQL database on other storage formats and platforms, such as direct attached storage (DAS), a storage area network (SAN) or even cloud storage. This reduces the size of the database (potentially up to 90%), making it easier to manage.
The most important feature of StoragePoint is that this is done transparently to the end user who is totally unaware of where the SharePoint BLOBs or content is stored but can access the information seamlessly from SharePoint.
However, this BLOB offload also provides the benefit of being able to move content onto less costly storage automatically based on age, version or even changes in the metadata. This is particularly appealing to the office of finance as it allows companies to maximise their existing storage infrastructure, allowing them to stretch their investment.
Migrate with a librarian
This may seem like collaboration utopia but the bigger headache for organisations is migrating from FileShare to SharePoint or SharePoint 2007 to 2010. With StoragePoint FileShare Librarian, users can painlessly move content to SharePoint, leveraging security and document management functions, including hierarchy structures and the storage management capabilities of SharePoint itself.
In a nutshell, StoragePoint FileShare catalogues the file shares and migrates them quickly and easily into SharePoint.
One of the most significant benefits is that it moves the content fast. For example, when migrating 1Tb of content (the equivalent of eight-million documents) using traditional migration tools this process can take up to six weeks. With StoragePoint FileShare Librarian, this process takes approximately 27 hours. It delivers intelligent cataloguing that imports and catalogues content when migrating.
StoragePoint FileShare Librarian enables businesses to do this in the following ways: using SharePoint Only mode or SharePoint and FileShare mode (also known as dual mode). Dual mode allows users to access FileShare and SharePoint, allowing them to upload and edit content on FileShare whilst also being able to access this on SharePoint.
This allows users to slowly migrate to SharePoint whereas the SharePoint Only mode catalogues the content once and users must immediately move to SharePoint.
A common concern when migrating to a new platform or application is the issue of going live. With StoragePoint FileShare Librarian, the "watch folder" functionality offers a "simulation" experience with the cataloguing process, highlighting any problems before going live.
When embarking on a migration or looking for more intelligent storage tools to enhance a SharePoint application, it is important to realise that technology is available to ease the traditional pains that are associated with this. However, it is crucial to partner with a company that understands this niche area within ICT, and will provide appropriate direction based on experience and expertise.