IT is increasingly involved in eDiscovery, and enlightened self-interest is doing a lot of the heavy lifting. This wasn’t always the case. As long as IT could maintain a minimum effort or even ignore eDiscovery entirely, they were frankly happier. And why not? IT resources are already strained by just trying to keep up with the core computing environment. Server virtualization, storage management, network unification, data retention, application management, data security: these are IT’s major tasks and reason for being. eDiscovery was just an annoying support call from the Legal department and IT didn’t want to hear it.
But eDiscovery development and dollars are moving fast into areas under IT’s direct control. Review and Production will always be the core legal concern in eDiscovery. But Collection and early document review are getting harder and harder to do in the face of extreme data growth and complex storage structures. This is IT’s realm and Legal needs their help.
Let’s take a quick look at four driving factors that are making eDiscovery more attractive to IT. Or if “more attractive” is too much, “less of a huge pain” may do just fine.
- Factor #1: Fast-growing data. Fast data growth is a fact of life in private and public sectors. It’s not just a question of storing and protecting the data, although that is a tough undertaking for any IT organization. IT must also contend with large data volumes scattered throughout hundreds and thousands of application servers, and stored on countless storage devices. Collecting and searching through digital data in this challenging environment is no joke. Attorneys cannot do it by themselves and IT needs proactive processes to control data searches and restores for eDiscovery collections.
- Factor #2: Faster collections. Attorneys used to plead “undue burden” to get out of intensive search and collection, but judges are disinclined to grant that motion anymore. Instead, they are telling companies that if their storage infrastructure is too obscure to search, then fix it. This trend increases identification and collection tasks, which – no surprise – fall on IT’s shoulders. Shrinking eDiscovery timelines have been imposed on attorneys and they don’t like it any more than IT does, but the groups must work together to meet earlier and stricter litigation timelines.
- Factor #3: Doing double-duty. Processes and tools serving eDiscovery, records management, data retention and compliance are closely intertwined. Some storage vendors and eDiscovery vendors know this, and develop their products accordingly. This means that some storage management vendors can expand their products to include eDiscovery and compliance options, while some eDiscovery vendors can leverage their products to serve storage management as well. This sort of dual development leverages IT purchases to serve eDiscovery as well as retention and storage management. This is an especially strong argument when the money is coming out of IT’s budget. But even when the money is carved from several budgets, a double-duty product still increases the value of IT’s time investment.
- Factor #4: More interest in interdisciplinary teams. No one is saying that IT and Legal are close. They’re not. But Legal has a much better understanding of how they need IT – not as a data search service, but as a partner. IT is coming to grips with the fact that improving processes for data retention or compliance also benefits eDiscovery.
eDiscovery is not some out-of-left-field business process that IT is forced to support. A good eDiscovery process helps to accomplish those very things that make IT’s life better: good data retention, fast restores, high availability, and a well-controlled storage environment. Conclusion: a workable eDiscovery process equals IT’s enlightened self-interest.
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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