IBM Gets Proactive About E-Discovery

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IBM (NYSE: IBM) has unveiled eDiscovery Manager, a software product that lets enterprises manage electronically stored information so that they can retrieve it easily when a legal challenge requires e-discovery.

Enterprises are being forced to adopt e-discovery solutions because of 2006 amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) that require companies to preserve and produce electronically stored information when facing litigation. FRCP is the U.S. federal district court procedures for civil suits.

Part of the vendor’s Enterprise Content Management (ECM) suite of products, eDiscovery Manager integrates with IBM’s auto-classification and records management technology, and the vendor’s content-centric business process management (BPM) capabilities.

eDiscovery Manager uses IBM’s e-mail archiving solutions, leverages the vendor’s ECM repositories, and supports an easy-to-use interface. It “controls information at its source when it is created,” said Aaron Brown, program director of IBM Content Discovery. The eDiscovery Manager works with IBM’s Classification Module and content management repository for this.

“We let you handle capture, retention, archiving and content management to manage your content proactively because the information has already been retained, classified and managed,” Brown said. Many other e-discovery vendors offer point solutions or outsourced third-party solutions that companies put in place when litigation comes in, according to Brown.

While these point and third-party outsourced approaches work, “they are expensive, because organizations often have to expand them to deal with other cases, and typically these solutions don’t address the bigger problem of information retention,” Brown said. “We want e-discovery to be part of the basic daily process rather than having you run around putting out fires.”

IBM is one of the few vendors that can offer an enterprise-class solution for eDiscovery, said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group. “Nobody has the breadth anymore to cover all databases, all repositories; it requires a very large set of capabilities and IBM Global Services and EDS are among the few entities that folks love to help solve that kind of complex problem.”

EDS (NYSE: EDS) is in the process of being acquired by Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ).

Together with other products in IBM’s ECM suite, eDiscovery Manager lets enterprises sort, classify and archive information for easy retrieval.

IBM eDiscovery Manager is an integral part of the IBM Compliance Warehouse for Legal Control, a combination of software, hardware and services that let enterprises achieve, sustain and prove compliance with multiple legal and compliance mandates.

It also supports IBM’s broader Information Governance strategy, which helps clients define, enforce and monitor policies related to the control and quality of information. IBM eDiscovery Manager runs on Windows and AIX, IBM’s version of Unix. IBM is moving AIX to open source.

When lawyers need information relating to a case, they provide parameters such as the subject, a range of dates and keywords to IT, which conducts a search using eDiscovery Manager’s search-based interface. The product collects relevant information and puts a litigation hold on it, which marks that information as undeletable.

“A very important part of the eDiscovery process is that the tools you use must respect things like deletion policies and keep accurate logs of access and searches,” Brown said. These functions have been built into eDiscovery Manager, he added.

Once the search is complete, the IT department checks the information gathered and exports the result to the legal team, Brown said. “This is not the end application for the legal team, we’re just focused on proactive management and collecting and identifying the information,” he explained.

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