The Era of Big Content has arrived

January 14, 2013 —  (Page 1 of 2)
You can feel it happening. You see the PowerPoint presentations spreading throughout your SharePoint environment. You see the strain placed on your SQL Server. You see the numbers increasing in your budget.

It is the new normal of how businesses operate. Your file sizes once maxed out in megabytes; now they are exceeding gigabytes. Your SharePoint farm once maxed out in hundreds of GBs; they are now exceeding terabytes.

We have entered the era of Big Content, and there is no end in sight to the rapid growth of that content. Analyst estimates have pegged the total amount of content in 2020 to blow past 40 zettabytes (ZB), a figure that is difficult for even the most seasoned IT professional to wrap their head around. Because SharePoint has evolved into the content-management platform of choice, a majority of this content will be stored, managed and organized within your SharePoint environment.

When it comes to SharePoint, a myriad of problems arise when you deal with growing content across multiple farms in multiple physical locations. How can you effectively and efficiently manage terabytes of business content? How do you prevent SharePoint sprawl from infecting your farms and bringing productivity to a standstill? How do you ensure content is always available in the case of disaster?

Chalcroft, a construction company based in the United Kingdom, understands the challenges of Big Content. Within three years, its SharePoint 2010 farm grew from 0.5TB to 7TB to 25TB, a growth rate of a mind-boggling 9,900%. The average file size is 15MB, with blueprints and drawings that average 50MB and videos that regularly eat up more than 1GB.

“Our SQL Server was unable to keep up, and it was affecting our SharePoint performance,” said Claire Edgson, Group IT Manager for Chalcroft. “If we didn’t do something, our SQL Server was never going to cope. We had reached the point where it stopped being feasible to use.”

Another issue is the time it takes to back up and restore business-critical items. Using standard backup methods, it can take up to eight hours to back up just 1TB of content. In 2008, that may have been acceptable. In 2012, it is not. By 2020, it could take a month, if not more, for a company to back up all of its content.

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