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What Can Database Developers and DBAs Do About SharePoint?

It has been well chronicled how pervasive Microsoft's SharePoint Server is becoming in all enterprises.

Just look at the large pharmaceutical conglomerate Pfizer, which has 6,000 SharePoint sites used by 63,000 employees -- that's two-thirds of its entire rank and file.

But if you're a database developer or administrator, the rampant growth of SharePoint has to be a concern. In a recent conversation I had with independent consultant and Microsoft MVP Don Demsak, this is a common concern that is only going to continue to grow. That's because of the amount of data that is going into SharePoint that is better suited for a SQL database. The reason is clear.

"SharePoint is very successful because you are removing levels of impedance, and a lot of the DBAs hate SharePoint for those same reasons," says Demsak. "Basically you are storing everything in a BLOB, and you can't relate to object relational mapping, and you can't do good entity relationships, you can't do relational models because there's all sorts of problems when people try to extend that SharePoint model past where it's supposed to go."

This is reminiscent of the 1990s, when Lotus Notes started to grow in enterprises, Demsak recalls. "I remember when every database was a Notes database, and it shouldn't have been. You're storing documents and that sort of stuff in there. That's great but you've got rows, columns, and you're trying to join this list to that list and that's not what those tools were made for," he says. When you need a relational database you use a relational database, the way it was supposed to be."

This is more than an annoyance though, because when an organization requires referential integrity of information, that's what relational databases were intended for. If you're a database developer or DBA, drop me a line and tell me how you are dealing with this. I'd like to hear from SharePoint developers too. I'm at [email protected].

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 02/12/2009

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