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MS Dynamics CRM & SharePoint 2013 Integration – Document Versions save you a fortune using Shredded Storage

MS Dynamics CRM & SharePoint Integration – What’s in Store for you ?

Microsoft Dynamics CRM and SharePoint integration enable users to use the document management capabilities of SharePoint from within Microsoft Dynamics CRM. It allows users to store and manage documents in the context of a Microsoft Dynamics CRM record on a server that is running SharePoint.

The best part about this integration  is it allows SharePoint users to leverage the SharePoint framework to share, manage, and collaborate efficiently.  As the documents are stored on a server that is running SharePoint, it is imperative to understand and optimize server space and cost by managing document versions efficiently.

So here’s a context to set the scene. Suppose you are planning to do a newsletter campaign using Microsoft Dynamics CRM capabilities, where several participants will contribute, modify, review and approve a draft using SharePoint document management capabilities thanks to their integration. Let’s say the file size of the document is 5mb and is supposed to move through various stages of approvals and edits as we discussed earlier. Suppose another employee wishes to edit  the newsletter with something as minute as changing the metadata value of the file. As a result a new version is created with these edits whose file size is again 5mb. It is important to note that every time a version is created it  consume 5mb (same as the original version size) so now we have consumed 10mb storage space with just a minor edit. Similarly if there are 10 rounds of revisions, edits and modifications from various participants, there will be 50MB of file that will be stored in the content database. Thus we see creating a file of size 5mb can actually end up consuming 50mb of space on the server that is running SharePoint. Isn’t it a costly pursuit ? Can we have a solution to it?

Well the answer comes with the latest Shredded storage feature in SharePoint 2013 that saves only the incremental edits not the whole document time after time thereby save a lot of expensive SQL storage space so that you can effectively utilize MS Dynamics capabilities combined with SharePoint 2013 infrastructure.

What is Shredded Storage in SharePoint 2013 ?

Shredded storage in SharePoint 2013 is the latest feature that helps save expensive SQL server space every time a new version of documents are created. Shredded feature does this by only storing incremental edits or changes in the documents and not the whole document every time a new version is created. Shredded storage finds its importance in collaboration scenarios where a document is exchanged, reviewed and co-authored . With each of these collaborative instances many versions along with the edits are created which consumes a lot of I/O storage space. With Shredded storage we can reduce I/O storage and network space to enable the system to perform efficiently and cost effectively.

Understanding Document Versioning & Why is it important ?

How many times do you edit a document? How many versions of a document are created when a document moves through the workflows or content development stages?  How many duplicate versions are created by  a minor change in metadata value? Did you know each document version consumes a costly server space equivalent to the size of the original document? Well, that’s how the files were managed by the addition of SharePoint 2013 Shredded storage feature.

In order to understand the importance of Shredded storage it is important to know a little about document versioning and why it is important. Suppose a document has to move across workflows for a review or approval process. There will be instances where many employees would be working simultaneously on that document. The document is edited, updated and reviewed as it moves ahead in the workflow or across content development stages for regular reviews and approvals. Every time if there’s an edit in the document by a workflow participant, a new version will be created and stored in the SQL database. These versions consume a lot of space even if the new version has a minor change.  As the document progresses it is assumed that the quality of document is getting better. SharePoint administrator can set limits on the maximum number of versions that can be created in a SharePoint library to save more server space. When the number of versions exceeds the version limits the last draft gets deleted automatically with every incremental version creation above the version limit. Document versioning is important as it helps  track the version history and take action in case one has to step back to earlier versions to perform any activity.

How Shredded Storage optimizes incremental Document Versions

Shredded Storage feature in SharePoint 2013 stores changes in the documents (in the form of edits or metadata) as “Shredded BLOBS” in a data table known as DocStreams Datatable which gets created with every fresh content database. Whenever there are changes in a document, the changes are stored as shredded blobs in a row in a table subsequently. In order to uniquely identify these shredded blobs from the source blob a numerical Id is assigned. Then using the blob index all the shredded blobs are merged to create a file. These shredded blobs consume less space in content database which are quite expensive. Hence, shredding the documents in the form of Blobs helps store only the incremental changes and saves extra  space in the content database.

Storing these incremental edits or changes in the content database may still be an expensive pursuit especially when you are running both MS Dynamics and SharePoint. Hence, using an external less expensive storage space to manage these changes can greatly reduce your server cost. RBS or remote blob storage which externalizes the shredded blobs in an external less expensive server space can be used optimally along with SharePoint 2013 Shredded Storage feature to save costly content database space.

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