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The Legal department still rules the eDiscovery roost. However, there are critical aspects of eDiscovery that are well outside Legals area of expertise and solidly in ITs camp. For example, Legal identifies keyword search parameters and the collection parameters, but the average extent of their expertise is shooting off emails to IT and data custodians. This worked fine when eDiscovery was less demanding and when data stores were smaller, but today these methods are dangerously inaccurate.
Knowing they need to do something, Legal may contract with service providers or law firms to do their collections. This approach usually consists of IT copying backup tapes onto transportable media and shipping it off to the service provider. Another alternative is to establish an archiving service with a remote service provider who provides eDiscovery collections on the hosted collection.
These arent bad alternatives, but they have drawbacks. First, hiring an outside company to do collections is an expensive proposition. Service providers cannot waltz into enterprise data centers and start to collect data; they need to be highly vetted and highly qualified and this translates into highly expensive. Second, remote hosting with eDiscovery services can be very attractive for searching long-term archives. But it does not help when collecting from a plethora of locations where data is stored: backup tapes, archive systems, servers, laptops, workstations, SharePoint, Documentum, and more.
Given these considerations, the collections process is showing signs of moving away from service providers and coming in-house. There are several factors controlling this movement including:
High cost of culling. The amount of collected data is always larger than the data that will actually be reviewed. This means the collected data sets must be culled down to the most relevant set of data a necessary, but often expensive process. The more relevant the initial collected set, the less money and time the culling process will take. This is why attorneys are increasingly looking to identification and collection tools that collect more data faster and with fewer non-relevant documents. This makes collections an increasingly rich space for eDiscovery purchasing, and necessarily involves IT at least as an influencer and often as a purchaser.
Demand for faster collections. Attorneys used to be able to plead undue burden when faced with large-scale collection demands. However, judges are increasingly unwilling to grant the plea to companies with poorly controlled storage environments. This trend increases the need for collection software tools and effective collection processes. This naturally falls into ITs area.
Double-duty products. Collections tools are not necessarily just for eDiscovery and/or compliance. Most eDiscovery collections vendors have engineered multiple business process support into their collections products, such as storage or archive management. Examples include email archiving with eDiscovery options from Iron Mountain (NYSE: IRM) or Symantec (NASDAQ: SYMC), and storage management with eDiscovery support from StoredIQ or Digital Reef. These and similar approaches encourage IT to think win-win by using the same product to support eDiscovery and to improve data management.
eDiscovery is increasingly impacting IT, but the impact doesnt have to be painful. IT professionals have the option of leveraging eDiscovery purchases to serve multiple storage management and business process needs.
Christine Taylor is an Analyst with The Taneja Group, an industry research firm that provides analysis and consulting for the storage industry, storage-related aspects of the server industry, and eDiscovery. Christine has researched and written extensively on the role of technology in eDiscovery, compliance and governance, and information management.
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