A registered nonprofit, Central YMCA is the UK’s leading health and fitness charity and the world’s first YMCA. Based in the heart of London, Central YMCA is structured as five unique entities; including CYQ, the UK’s leading awarding organization for health, fitness and wellbeing qualifications, and YMCAfit, the most experienced fitness training provider in the UK with over 90,000 students.
Central YMCA uses SharePoint 2010 as a document repository and project management tool for CYQ, YMCAfit and its other divisions.
- Central YMCA manages a 500GB SharePoint farm
- With Metalogix the storage footprint was reduced to just 40GB while simplifying regulatory compliance, speeding backups, and streamlining the move to a hybrid cloud environment
- Costs were reduced by two thirds
- Solutions deployed: StoragePoint
As an educating institution and nonprofit, Central YMCA is subject to a number of regulations imposed by certain institutions, including Ofqual – a UK regulating body charged with maintaining standards and confidence in qualifications, Ofsted – the official body for inspecting schools, and the UK’s tax authority, HM Revenue and Customs.
These regulatory bodies, Ofqual in particular, have a very direct impact on Central YMCA’s SharePoint infrastructure. As Paul Smith, Business Systems Integrations Specialist explains: “Ofqual regulations require that any data that is sent out, whether it’s an email or an attachment, must be stored and recoverable in exactly the same format that it was sent out.”
While compliance with Ofqual is itself a challenge, Central YMCA’s application environment presented an additional layer of complexity. The nonprofit uses Microsoft Dynamics CRM to communicate with students as well as educators. In compliance with Ofqual, all outbound data generated by the CRM system was also being stored in its SharePoint document library. With 10,000 emails transmitted by the CRM each month, Central YMCA was amassing 500GB of data inside and outside the SharePoint farm – and it was growing fast.
“Disk space usage was literally doubling or even tripling each month,“ explained Smith. “We needed a solution that would meet that need.”
As a nonprofit, cost is always front- of-mind and by moving BLOBs outside our databases, StoragePoint reduced our database storage costs by two thirds.
StoragePoint is easy to implement and fit right in with our SharePoint central administration console. No user interface learning curve was necessary! The tool is also really easy to use, runs quietly in the background, and it works.
The great thing about Metalogix StoragePoint is that as we move to the cloud, it moves with us.
After testing several options, Paul Smith selected Metalogix StoragePoint based on value, feature richness, and ease-of-use.
“We ran a trial version of StoragePoint and found it very easy to implement. It fit right in with our SharePoint central administration console, with no user interface learning curve necessary! The tool is also really easy to use, runs quietly in the background, and it works,” said Smith.
StoragePoint delivered the solution that Central YMCA needed for managing its exponential storage growth. StoragePoint shatters SharePoint storage limitations by externalizing unstructured objects such as documents, images, and video, known as BLOBs, to shrink content databases – a major issue for Central YMCA. Alongside his SharePoint duties, Smith is also an experienced database administrator and appreciates the benefit of externalizing BLOBs which degrade performance and create SharePoint database sprawl, making the environment expensive and hard to manage. “As a nonprofit, cost is always front-of-mind and by moving BLOBs outside our databases, we were able to store content on more appropriate and less expensive storage tiers including File Shares located on NAS, CAS and soon, in the cloud. StoragePoint reduced our database storage costs by two thirds.”
In addition, Smith saw a massive improvement in backup capability with their existing tool thanks to StoragePoint. “We use a third party tool for our backups and thanks to StoragePoint we’ve cut backup times in half without the BLOB data weighing down the database,” said Smith.
Furthermore, Paul Smith came up with an innovative and integrated solution for taking control of the massive influx of data into SharePoint’s document libraries – much of it down to the duplicate content being fed into it from the organization’s CRM system.
“We developed an add-in for CRM that effectively utilizes the CRM 2011 integration with SharePoint. It takes every attachment that’s added into the CRM, whether it’s an email or other business asset, and then determines whether the asset is document-enabled with SharePoint. If it is, the attachment is moved into SharePoint, at which point StoragePoint takes over and stores the large, unstructured content outside the SharePoint database and in a storage location of our choosing.”
Working behind the scenes to externalize data, StoragePoint has boosted Central YMCA’s SharePoint environment, made backups more efficient and satisfied archive regulatory mandates. It’s also made Paul Smith’s life a lot easier. The organization’s SQL servers are now a mere 40GB thanks to the system integration and content externalization made possible by StoragePoint.
“With our CRM growth rate, we would have run out of disk space less than a year after we implemented it. StoragePoint bought us the time we needed to house our storage on a more efficient tier,” said Smith.
Furthermore, Ofsted and HMRC regulations require that Central YMCA archive data for years, and in some cases even for the lifetime of the student. Because StoragePoint leaves unstructured content on appropriate storage tiers, while still managing content from within SharePoint, users can experience a high performing application with unlimited storage potential.
StoragePoint has also improved Central YMCA’s SharePoint user experience: “Because CRM does the metadata indexing, CRM users have instant access to their documents without the need to trawl through emails, attachments, or archives. Users can simply click in one place to find a contact or an account.”
Central YMCA is currently in the process of migrating to the cloud with the deployment of Office 365 for email and Microsoft Azure cloud platform. While SharePoint itself will remain on-premises, Smith plans to use Azure to externalize locally-hosted SAN storage from its SQL databases and upload SharePoint content into the cloud.
“The great thing about Metalogix StoragePoint is that as we move to the cloud, it moves with us,” said Smith.
Because StoragePoint empowers users to store SharePoint content wherever they want, be it on SAN, NAS, CAS or in the cloud, organizations can choose the storage tier optimized for their cost and performance needs – perfect for Central YMCA’s approach to SharePoint. High priority, frequently accessed content can be stored in your SAN, while infrequently accessed or content that needs long-term retention can be stored in the cloud. StoragePoint constantly monitors content and automatically moves it to the appropriate storage tier based on frequency of access, age, version and metadata rules.
As Central YMCA moves its infrastructure to the cloud, StoragePoint will move with them as they exercise their hybrid environment.