The digital assets managed by an organization commonly include such items as product images, corporate logos, video presentations, podcasts, and other types of rich content. Managing assets such as product descriptions can be accomplished using a similar approach to managing other documents. However, when it comes to managing other content, such as images or video and audio files, a few specific requirements are necessary.
Media Content Types
I’ve mentioned the idea of content types in various places throughout this. In essence, on the SharePoint platform, a content type can be used to attach specific attributes and behaviors to a particular type of information.
When it comes to managing digital assets in SharePoint 2010, three new Media Content types are available, Audio, Image, and Video, as shown here:
Rich Media Content
Image files are relatively straightforward in terms of their storage and presentation. Appropriate metadata such as the image size and details of the creator are captured by way of additional fields on the Image content type. Video and audio files are a different story, however. Although specific metadata is also captured via additional fields attached to the appropriate content type, a number of challenges need to be overcome in the storage and presentation of video and audio data. One of the first challenges involves the sheer size of the files required to store such content. Even relatively low-definition video files can easily run into hundreds of megabytes. From a user experience perspective, downloading such files to play them is not an ideal situation. Even with a very fast network connection, such downloads would take a considerable length of time. A better approach is to stream content on demand, effectively allowing the user to download the content in real time as it’s being viewed. To facilitate this type of functionality, SharePoint 2010 includes a Silverlight-based media player that can be easily accessed via a custom pop-up dialog that’s automatically attached to media items.
To see this in action, take the following steps:
As well as the challenges involved in providing a respectable user interface for video and audio content, physically storing such data within SharePoint can also present a problem. This is especially the case where the aggregate data volume is very high. By default, SharePoint stores all content in a SQL database. Video and audio data is stored as a binary large object (BLOB). Of course, some overhead is inherent in retrieving this content from the database as opposed to from the local file system—more so in a farm deployment where the database exists in a separate physical server and must be accessed over a network connection. To reduce the latency involved in retrieving BLOB data from the database, SharePoint includes a disk-based cache for BLOB data. Effectively, data is stored in the local file system, allowing it to be easily pushed out to the client browser on demand without a database round trip.
Remote BLOB Storage
Another problem that occurs when a high volume of binary data is stored involves content database performance. Because all SharePoint content for a given site is stored in the same content database, extensive use of large video and audio files will degrade performance for other types of data. Furthermore, a recommended size limitation of 200GB exists for SharePoint 2010 content databases.
TIP If a site content database is greater than 4GB and contains a large amount of binary data such as documents or audio and video files, consider using Remote BLOB Storage as part of your overall data storage solution. Remote BLOB Storage (RBS) is an add-on application programming interface (API) for Microsoft SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2. In a nutshell, RBS transparently stores BLOB data externally rather than within SQL Server. Data is still accessed in the same manner from an end user perspective; however, the RBS API uses a provider model to connect physically to the external BLOB data store behind the scenes. A number of third-party vendors supply RBS providers for SQL Server 2008. However, Microsoft provides a free out-of-the-box FILESTREAM provider that effectively makes use of the file system for the storage and retrieval of BLOB data.
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Share Point 2010 Tutorial
The Microsoft Sharepoint 2010 Platform
Developing With Sharepoint 2010
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Client Object Model
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Enterprise Content Management
User Interface Customization
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Service Application Framework
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Data Access Overview
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User Profiles And Social Data
Packaging And Deployment Model
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