“Since implementing DocAve and moving content out of SQL, our SharePoint environment is noticeably faster and no end users have complained, which is always a good sign.”
- Joe Alonge, Network Support Senior Advisor, Dell Services Federal Government
Dell Services Federal Government, Inc., a subsidiary of Dell Inc., provides information technology, business process outsourcing, and consulting services to defence, intelligence, national security, and civil government markets.
Working with a wide variety of public sector organizations, Dell Services Federal Government utilizes Microsoft SharePoint heavily in its day-to-day business processes. The company hosts its intranet site on SharePoint and employees utilize the platform for collaboration internally as well as with clients. SharePoint is also used to run a task order management system that helps the company find partners and contractors to work with on opportunities sent by government agencies. Additionally, the company uses SharePoint as its corporate dashboard, which delivers reports related to finances, sales pipeline, and human resources.
In total, Dell Services Federal Government has approximately 3,500 SharePoint end users, with 2,000 employees; 500 sub-contractors, consultants, and partners; and 1,000 clients who access the sites to receive deliverables, reports, and other information. With such a large end user base accessing SharePoint as a business-critical platform, the company’s Microsoft SQL Server content database ultimately grew to approximately 4 TB.
Storing so much data in the content database brought about a number of challenges. “It was becoming increasingly difficult to do basic SQL management and it was taking more than six hours to back up our data on the content database level,” said Joe Alonge, Network Support Senior Advisor at Dell Services Federal Government. “Our system was becoming noticeably slower for our end users.”
In order to optimize its SharePoint storage and improve performance, Dell Services Federal Government began to investigate third-party software solutions.
Alonge chose AvePoint’s DocAve Software Platform. “Our parent company, Dell, uses DocAve, and we felt it was much more polished than other products on the market,” Alonge said. “It offered all of the SharePoint storage functionality we wanted and every forum and blog I read recommended it, so DocAve was the obvious choice.”
Alonge implemented DocAve Storage Manager, which allows organizations to mitigate the negative consequences of exponential data growth by externalizing binary large object (BLOB) content based on file size, type, or other document properties. “I ran a scheduled task to pull out anything that wasn’t a SharePoint item and larger than 100 kilobytes (KB) to store on a file server back end,” Alonge said. “I was able to schedule the task to take place over night to have the least impact on end users. After that, I set up a similar task to take place in real-time, so new content uploaded to SharePoint would be stored on the file server instead of the content database right off the bat.”
After utilizing DocAve, Dell Services Federal Government’s content database diminished by approximately 3.5 TB, an 88 percent reduction. Though the content is now stored outside of the content database, end users are able to access all of their content within SharePoint just as before – and Alonge’s SQL maintenance is much faster. “Since implementing DocAve and moving content out of SQL, our SharePoint environment is noticeably faster and no end users have complained, which is always a good sign,” Alonge said. “Full SQL backups that used to take as long as six hours now take less than one hour. Plus, having the majority of our content stored on another file server that I could recover from – if necessary – helps me sleep better at night.”
Above all, the company also experienced significant cost benefits from its DocAve implementation. “By optimizing our SharePoint environment and storing the bulk of our data on less expensive storage, we were able to save approximately $25,000 in hardware expenses,” Alonge said.
With the success of DocAve Storage Manager, Dell Services Federal Government will soon begin to use DocAve Archiver to automatically archive SharePoint content and save even more space on its content database. Meanwhile, Alonge continues to enjoy the user experience of DocAve 6, the latest version of the DocAve Software Platform. “DocAve 6 is very easy to use and I like the ribbon-based interface, which flows a lot like SharePoint,” Alonge said. “The fact that DocAve is a comprehensive suite of products was appealing to us, and we will keep its other products in mind as our SharePoint environment continues to grow.”
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