SharePoints document management architecture essentially stores all data in SQL Server databases. While this simplifies management in some ways it creates scalability challenges and is more costly than the file system. Comparing SharePoint with Tower Trim, Meridio and Opentext products which are known for enterprise wide scalability (100s of millions of items), the architectures of these products use SQL Server for storing metadata, security etc…and file servers for storing the actual documents.
The pros:
  • Less costly storage
  • More efficient use of storage
  • Can take advantage of existing file servers
The cons:
  • Files are more distributed
  • Require a mature backup and restore process and policy
This architecture flaw impacts the credibility of the SharePoint 2007 in that large enterprises don’t use SharePoint for document and records management. Instead they use SharePoint for WIP use Tower Trim, Meridio or Opentext as the enterprise wide repository. I would hope that Microsoft eventually changes the architecture of their Document Center and Records Management center sites to mimic the architecture of their competition by utilizing file servers as document/record storage facilities in stead of SQL Server – perhaps the next release in 2009.