Many times as a consultant you get involved in the design and implementation of Content Server, seldom do you get the chance to swing by years later to see how it all went. A while ago I was given such an opportunity. My brief was simple enough – to move their Content Server environment to a new data centre. As it happens so often, you start to get closer to the solution you start to work out how it is being used and this case how it was being managed.

The problem they faced

The problem that they were facing was a increasing storage overhead – as problems go it was not an uncommon one. What struck me with a bit of terror was their solution.

To save on the amount of disk space being used they had hired a developer to run reports across the system to determine documents where their version history was more than 100 Mb and programmatically purge the versions of their document.

On the face of it, this is a very a-typical IT solution to a problem – you are only ever going to open the latest version, so why do you need the other versions – in essence treating Content Server like a share drive.

The Smarter Way

Search

When I found out about this, I sat down with the system administrator and run through a couple of very simple approaches he could be using to overcome these issues. The first is basic, but extremely illustrative…..search.

A simple search on documents within their Content Server yielded tens of thousands of results including some project workspaces entitled Windows 2000 SoE project (Hint: they are on Windows 7 now).
When documentation like this ceases to have any business relevance, and there is no legal imperative to preserve it does beg the question as to why they are spending so much time on custom development when this content is hanging around largely untouched.

Personal Workspaces of departed staff

The other low hanging fruit when looking to reduce the amount of clutter in your system is to look at Personal Workspaces. There is a reasonable chance that for every workspace that is being used currently in your workspace there is at least one that was use by an employee who has now left the organisation.
To illustrate this I managed to find the personal workspace from when I was last employed (5 years had passed at the time), and from there show the system administrator my collection of LOL cat pictures.
The simple truth in content server deployments the personal workspace does tend to get left off when reviewing and assess the records in your system. But given that the contents of the workspace still can be classified as a business records it does raise concern both from a legal risk and more importantly (in the context of this scenario) the overall storage that your system uses.

In conclusion

Ultimately this was an organisation that was not one that on the whole did not think about the life cycle of their records. And I don’t say this to vilify at all – there are plenty organisations whose answer to the question ‘how long do you want to keep your records’ is usually – forever, and when you ask ‘what happens when you run low on storage’ reply we will buy more. But when you are an organisation who now has full time staff in charge of actively find ways to purge versions of your documents in order to save money on your storage costs. Perhaps that should be the trigger to start looking more closely at managing the lifecycle off your records.

Bonus Content!

Check out how to add a default classification to the personal workspace objects within your Content Server environment within this quick guide