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How to overcome SharePoint performance headaches

John Moore | April 4, 2013
Some companies are rolling out third-party storage systems that move large data sets off SQL Server.

Jim Bahn, senior product marketing manager with Astute Networks, said the task of tuning SharePoint storage for the best performance can prove vexing. "There are tables and indexes and files that are specific to SharePoint and...SQL Server that people spend a lot of time tweaking in order to get the best performance they can," he says.

The trick is to place the various SharePoint components on the most advantageous storage tier. SharePoint transaction logs, for example, generally become a choke point and should reside on the fastest storage medium, Bahn explains. (This optimization approach, however, assumes organizations have well-trained database administrators with the time to juggle SharePoint storage.)

The level of complexity grows when storage is relocated to a storage network for greater performance. "There are 200 things you can tweak on the storage side," Bahn says. "Frankly, it's kind of a dark science. It's very hard to solve the storage network problem."

PHR, meanwhile, didn't have an army of IT people to throw at SharePoint storage, Bahn points out, noting that ViSX is geared toward mid-sized and smaller companies.

"They wanted to basically push a button and have the problem go away," he says. "The simplest way is to put the SharePoint application on the fastest storage device you can."

Other Paths to Peak SharePoint Performance

Astute Networks offers flash appliances to get the job done. But there are other ways around the SharePoint storage obstacle.

Kattelo Consulting uses Metalogix Software's StoragePoint and recommends it to customers with growing SharePoint deployments.

Lo says his 20-person company runs on SharePoint, which houses project schedules, task lists, client deliverables and training videos, among other items. StoragePoint offloads that content to a file server. StoragePoint takes Binary Large Objects (BLOBs) out of SharePoint's SQL Server databases and shuttles them to external storage devices. The product takes advantage of Microsoft's Remote Blob Store (RBS) APIs that permits BLOB storage outside the SQL Server database storage.

Moving unstructured data to external storage via RBS leaves organizations with only a small SQL Server content database for storing metadata, Lo says. "There's a very minimal footprint in SQL, and the majority of the files and workload is offloaded to the file servers."

Jignesh Shah, chief strategy and marketing officer at Metalogix, says organizations encounter performance issues in connection with rapidly expanding content. He notes that customers, on average, experience a content growth rate of 75 percent year over year.

"Even if you have a very well-tuned SharePoint infrastructure," he says, "the amount of content that people are pumping into SharePoint leads to a variety of problems."

Among those are backup times. Shah says backing up multiple terabytes of content takes several hours. As a consequence, a user who wants to restore data may discover that eight hours of content has not been backed up.


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