In my daily perusing of SharePoint blogs a couple of weeks ago I saw a blog post on Jie Li's blog on how to install Remote Blob Store (RBS) on SharePoint 2010. Imagine my excitement! I was under the impression that using RBS was going to be something we were mortals would not be able to use, but here it was. Why was I so excited? Well, with SharePoint 2003 all content had to go in content databases, no exceptions. As people started putting more content, and larger content into SharePoint the question became pretty common, "Can I store my large files outside of SQL?" The answer was always no. Storing files outside of SQL became the holy grail of SharePoint content storage. It would let you take advantage of all the reasons you used SharePoint; metadata, web presentation, workflows, etc. It also let you use storage that was much cheaper than SQL storage normally is. When SharePoint 2007 came out the answer to that question remained the same, "All content must be stored in SQL, no exceptions." However, after a hotfix the support for External Blob Storage (EBS) was added to SharePoint. This was almost what we needed. The hooks were there in SharePoint, but there was no way to actually use them. It was handled much like how SharePoint handles antivirus software. There were hooks into SharePoint for it, but the functionality itself didn't exist in the product. That part had to be handled by third parties or ISVs. Not a lot of ISVs jumped on this, as the interface exposed to them wasn't great, and it wasn't clear what the upgrade path would look like. Again, storing large files outside of SQL seemed just out of reach for the average SharePoint administrator, until now…
That brings me back to Jie's post. I knew that SharePoint 2010 would ship with RBS support, but I wasn't sure what RBS products we'd be able to use. Jie's post not only showed how RBS could be used, but provided an actual RBS provider. That's was pure gold. The RBS provider Jie linked to uses SQL 2008's Filestream support. That works for me. The rest of this blog post is how I installed RBS and got it working.
Again, everything I've done here is based on Jie's blog post and the links inside. Only a couple of things are things I had to figure out myself.
I already had a VM with Windows 2008 R2, in a domain. It had SQL 2008 R2 with the November CTP on it. It also had SharePoint Beta 2 (build 14.0.4536.1000) installed on it, and I had been using it a while. There were several content databases defined with a few site collections. The first thing I had to do was enable Filestream in SQL 2008 R2. I used these instructions on MSDN. Once I had the instructions, it went very smoothly. The only snag I had was I initially ran it as the wrong user. In my VM, SQL is running as contoso\administrator. SharePoint is all running as contoso\sp_farm and that's the account I logged in as normally. That account did not have the permissions to enable Filestream. After I ran it all as Administrator it worked. Now came the fun part, RBS…
In preparation for RBS I created a new Content Database for it to use, since RBS is scoped at the content database level. I used Window PowerShell to do it, since that's what the cool kids are using.
The command I used was New-SPContentDatabase –name WSS_Content_Blob –WebApplication http://shaerpoint –MaxSiteCount 1 –WarningSiteCount 0
Next I went into SQL Management Studio, as contoso\sp_farm, and ran a few TSQL commands to configure my new database for RBS. Here are the commands I used:
Here's the text:
if not exists (select * from sys.symmetric_keys where name = N'##MS_DatabaseMasterKey##')create master key encryption by password = N'Admin Key Password !2#4'
if not exists (select groupname from sysfilegroups where groupname=N'RBSFilestreamProvider')alter database [WSS_Content_Blob]
add filegroup RBSFilestreamProvider contains filestream
alter database [WSS_Content_Blob] add file (name = RBSFilestreamFile, filename = 'c:\Blobstore') to filegroup RBSFilestreamProvider
I was following the directions from this MSDN post, but I had to make a couple of changes. First, I had to make sure I had the correct database name, WSS_Content_Blob, everywhere necessary. Second, I manually created c:\Blobshare before running the TSQL commands. That was a mistake. SQL needs to make it on its own when you run the third command. Deleting c:\Blobstore fixed that and the command ran successfully.
Next step was to install the RBS bits on the SharePoint servers. (Download RBS_X64.msi) In my case it was pretty simple because SQL and SharePoint were on the same machine, and I only had a single SharePoint server. Here's the command I used to install the RBS bits:
msiexec /qn /lvx* rbs_install_log.txt /i RBS_X64.msi TRUSTSERVERCERTIFICATE=true FILEGROUP=PRIMARY DBNAME="WSS_Content_Blob" DBINSTANCE="sharepoint" FILESTREAMFILEGROUP=RBSFilestreamProvider FILESTREAMSTORENAME=FilestreamProvider_1
This install seemed to happen immediately. However it kicked off an msiexec service that ran for a couple of minutes. I had to watch it in Task Manager to see when it was finished. I was also monitoring the rbs_install_log.txt file to see when the process was finished. I was looking for the phrase "Installation completed successfully."
If I would have had more SharePoint servers I would have had to install that on all of them, or SharePoint would have been very unhappy.
You can double-check the database was changed correctly if the rbs tables appear in it. That will look like this in SQL Management Studio:
The last step, before feeling the glory that is RBS, is to go back to our old friend, Windows PowerShell and enable RBS on our content database from a SharePoint perspective. Here's what the PowerShell looked like:
Here's one place I had to deviate from the MSDN article. It says the first line should be $cdb = Get-SPContentDatabase –WebApplication http://sitename That didn't work for me. I suspect the person writing that article had a web application with a single content database, so that command would only return one SPContentDatabase. The web application I was testing this on had three content databases, so $cdb had a collection of SPContentDatabases, which doesn't work for the next line. Reading through the PowerShell it looks pretty clear that $cdb should contain a single SPContentDatabase object. I went through the RBS install three times and had the same behavior each time.
The last step was to test RBS and upload a file and see where it ends up. The rbs_install_log.txt was 1.2 MB and a good candidate for the test. I created a site collection (with PowerShell of course) and uploaded that text file. To see if RBS worked, I navigated the c:\blobstore directory to see if my file was there. Here's what I found:
Looks like it was successful. I went through this three times and it worked every time. I tried various sizes of files and various operations on those files. I added versions, deleted them, added metadata, indexed and searched for them. It all worked just fine.
I hope this blog post inspires some of you to install RBS and play with it yourself. I do have another blog post planned where I go a little more in depth with what I found in RBS.
This blog post explains how to enable Filestream RBS on multiple databases. I haven't tried it myself yet, but I've talked to others that have.