Remote BLOB Storage Does Not Save Your SharePoint

March 3 2010 23 comments

SharePoint stores all portal content in content databases. This means that large documents and other binary large objects (BLOBs) quickly push the databases towards the recommended 100GB maximum size limit. Item versioning settings make this even worse, as every minor or major version creates a new binary copy of the document into the database.

A brand new feature of SharePoint Server 2010 and SQL Server 2008 is Remote BLOB Storage (RBS). It allows to move BLOBs from databases to other commodity storage solutions. In theory, that would significantly reduce the need to split SharePoint content into several content databases and would ease the database management.

SQL Server 2008 ships with RBS FILESTREAM provider for the RBS solutions to connect to local databases. It also ships with RBS FILESTREAM feature for saving BLOBs directly in NTFS filesystem. But according to TechNet:

SharePoint Server 2010 does not support remote BLOB storage implementations that use the FILESTREAM feature.

That must be new addition, as the FILESTREAM usage with SP2010 is demonstrated for example in Todd Klint’s blog.

In other material, Microsoft hint that RBS can be used with storage systems such as EMC Centera or NetApp SnapManager.

This seems to imply that simply using NTFS disks as RBS stores is not possible without separately licenced storage systems. As these are not viable in many cases, sticking to old database planning methods  and remembering the 100GB size limit seems to be the best way to go.

UPDATE 3.3.2010: The TechNet pages referenced in this article are updated, and there are now instructions for implementing a NTFS store using RBS and FILESTREAM provider. It seems that my original assumption was wrong, and RBS might indeed be a viable alternative.

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23 comments to “Remote BLOB Storage Does Not Save Your SharePoint”

  1. Jussi Palo says:

    I would understand the Technet article so that FILESTREAM _provider_ is supported, while FILESTREAM _feature_ is not.

  2. Arttu Arstila says:

    Hi and thanks for the comment! That is also how I understood the article: the provider is supported but the feature is not. The difference between those two was not so clear when I wrote this article in the end of January. It seems that the TechNet article was updated on 10th of February. There are now clear instructions about creating a blob store in NTFS share using FILESTREAM provider. So it seems I was wrong in the article, which is good as now we can more easily utilize RBS. I will update the article as well.

  3. Hi Arttu,

    I just wrote an article on Microsoft SharePoint EBS External Blob Store and RBS Remote Blob Store API and how this can be used to get SharePoint content in external storage and not in the SQL Server. Microsoft itself does not provide a connecting solution but being a software company they provide the key: the EBS / RBS api. It’s up to a software developer to create the connection, and STEALTH Software has done that. Basically what they have done is creating a provider that separates the metadata from the content (blob’s) and store that in SQL Server. The content goes in to an external storage. This can be a private storage environment based on Caringo CAStor, ParaScale or Bizanga Store Ring. Or it can be a public environment like Windows Azure, Amazon S3 or EMC Atmos. The content can be secured with AES 256 bit encryption, so if public storage is scary it won’t be for SharePoint content.

    If you would like to read more about this, please check out my article:

  4. Configure RBS of SQL 2008 with SharePoint 2010 (Remote BLOB Storage) / Thiết đặt thông số RBS của SQL 2008 với SharePoint 2010

  5. Elvira says:

    - FileStream Provider only offers a basic level of garbage collection.
    - RBS FileStream Provider doesn’t support multiple storage tiers to help you optimize your storage cost (see my blog on SharePoint Archiving with multiple storage tiers).
    - No compression or encryption options are afforded.
    - RBS FileStream Provider is only supported in SharePoint 2010.
    - Much more…

    So before using the RBS FileStream Provider, you should be very careful in analyzing the costs of its limitations.

    However StorageEdge FileStream Provider is a much better tool that provide

    - StorageEdge RBS FileStream Providers also allows you to apply filters to the externalized content so you don’t need to externalize everything.
    - Encryption and Compression are also supported.
    - It supports throttling of various activities reducing their impact on performance in peak times.
    - It also provides a rich administration interface from within SharePoint.
    - Organize the externalized content in personalized folder structure.
    - File names are available in externalized content. This feature is not supported in RBS FileStream Provider. You don’t know the actual name of the externalized file on disk as it is always a GUID.

    Thus StorageEdge ensures that the burden of managing BLOBs is effectively off-loaded from the SQL Server.

  6. Pungi says:

    We have implemented StoragePoint…have a look ion their website.

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