RBS (Remote Blob Storage) part 1

Remote Blob Storage (RBS) is a Microsoft technology for managing large BLOBs (Binary Large Objects) in SQL Server and is fully supported within SharePoint 2010.  This technology basically allows you to take the large binary files that are expensive to maintain within a database, and offload them to a separate drive.

Who needs RBS?  You may need it if you:

  • Have very large Content Databases (100GB+)
  • Have a content mix that includes a large proportion of streaming media
  • Your content is large (1TB+)
  • You have more than one tier of storage

Few people actually use RBS as implemented by Microsoft.  Most users who need RBS simply pay for 3rd party software (StoragePoint/Metalogix or DocAve extender) which is the easy way to go.  However there are some drawbacks to this approach:

  • You’ll pay heavily for licensing. $7k-$14k per administrator/front end is typical, plus maintenance
  • The complication of going with yet another vendor
  • Vendor lock-in: it’s hard to change vendors when you have a production system set up with huge volumes of data stored via proprietary drivers

To be fair, the third-party vendors offer a few advantages:

  • Arguably more responsive support
  • More refined and customizable criteria for what content stays in the database and what gets moved into RBS
  • Better administration and maintenance interfaces
  • Better documentation: Microsoft’s RBS documentation leaves a lot of opportunity (putting it mildly)

Well, that’s the very high level view; for those intrepid souls looking to leverage Microsoft’s RBS, I’m going to walk through all the steps to set up, configure and administer RBS.

Check out RBS Part 2

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