Should I move my File Shares into SharePoint


So I had a call yesterday that took an interesting direction.  While discussing the merits of SharePoint Libraries, and Document Centers the client asked

“Can we just move all our files shares, public folders, and personal shares into SharePoint?”

Well 20 minutes later we had a strategy, but that makes me wonder how many organizations in the world take a quick approach to this very tactical issue.  I wanted to take a few minutes to outline a few approaches we have seen successful for most organizations.  Not saying these are the only options, or the best for you.  Options are good.  I am not discussing the migration process, or my feelings one way or another…….just your options.

Blob Storage (RBS File Streaming)

This has become a more valuable option since the release of 2010.  As SharePoint now has a valid solution to support this option many folks are leveraging this option.  It is important not only to consider this option, but make sure you have the infrastructure to support it.  As this option carries a higher load on data storage (yes storage is cheap), if you are leveraging a hosting provider this might cost you more in the long run.

Search needs to be adjusted, and you need to address retention and policy. Another consideration is Back up and recovery, you need to ensure that your storage is on the same schedule as the sites it is paired with.

The third point about this is “don’t do this on your own”, building a RBS solution is challenging, and there is a lot of experience out there to make it successful.  Plan on spending a little of your allocation for consulting, or solutions to make this transition easier.

Document Centers (Site Collections)

Creating Document Centers is a simple site approach to libraries and large volumes of files.  It is critical to consider a few issues with Document Centers. 

  • If you are planning on storing gigs of data in these centers, then they should be there OWN Site Collection.  This will relieve the burden of the DB administration and backups.
  • Content Management (Content Types).  I highly recommend you leverage a data architecture for this.  Ensuring solid usage of Content Types, Policies, and Retention.  I know that is a lot to wrap into one issue, but consider your files share Anarchy living in a single site….ouch.  With this you need to define ownership of this data.  It cannot be a dumping ground without true ownership.
  • Security, with all this data living in libraries do not go down the road of item level security.  This is a slippery slope, and in the long run a bugger to manage or clean up.
  • Folders, Folders, Folders……do you get my deep concern about deep folder structures.  I have seen libraries, yes SharePoint libraries with up to 16 folders deep structures.  This is completely the polar opposite of the intent of SharePoint.  You need to consider metadata, views, and library structures to support a business use case.

My Sites

Breaking each personal share into a library(s) within the My Site of each employee/member.

This is a newer yet very successful approach to user level data storage.  Consider corporate Facebook with some significant power and storage.  It is critical to have guidelines and policies in-place and enforced here.  You need to have the following ready to go before implementing this.

  • Data storage
  • Policy (100mb by default)
  • Retention and Employee Departure Procedure
  • Security
  • Corporate Computer Usage Policy
  • Legal (can legal review and search for non compliance)
  • Audit

Libraries

Moving the content from department/team/OU file structures to libraries within each respective SharePoint site/portal.

Libraries are the most common repository of data, and thus the fall back for nearly all examples of this.  Just keep in mind the use of folders, item level security, and metadata.  A lot of the same concerns around Document Centers lives here also.  Make sure your folks are heavily trained on the usage and features of libraries.  The more time you invest in this the better the payoff.

Some great benefits for this is email enabled libraries, and sync with Outlook.  Those features can give you that added cool factor for little to no investment.

In conclusion, it is important not to be reactive, consider the underlying data architecture and information architecture.  Plan, ask questions, research, plan again, and then put pen to paper.

You need to be sensitive to your governance and ensure you have enforcement thru policy.  Remember as your company grows, your administrators will face a heavy burden of management so making solid strategies about your data is a critical point in your success.

Additional Resources for your consideration:

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