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Keys to Cutting In-House eDiscovery Costs without Creating New Legal Liabilities

A SearchStorageChannel.com article that appeared in early 2008 estimated the cost of outsourced eDiscovery at about $1500 per gigabyte. While those costs may sound high, they are justifiable when a company factors in the need for qualified personnel to search, access and retrieve data securely and authoritatively as part a legal eDiscovery. However these same costs can quickly become untenable for enterprise companies that need to access and search terabytes if not petabytes of information. Therefore it is not surprising that more enterprise companies are exploring the option of performing eDiscoveries in-house to minimize these litigation costs.

DCIG research has shown that when enterprise companies move eDiscoveries in-house, costs can drop precipitously – perhaps to under $5/GB – in cases where large amounts of data are involved. However as companies go to select in-house eDiscovery solutions such as the Kazeon Information Server, they need to ensure that the data the solution accesses and searches as well as the results that it produces are measurable, reproducible and can withstand the scrutiny of external auditors. Otherwise if you can not reliably reproduce the results, whatever money you save up front is spent later on defending the method you used to perform the eDiscovery.

Though there is no definitive way to ensure an eDiscovery solution delivers on every requirement a company may have, there are some keys to selecting the right solution for performing in-house eDiscovery. The right solution should:

  • Do in-place analysis, review and legal holds. Keeping data in its current location helps prevent data spoliation due to unnecessary movement of data, and makes the eDiscovery process more efficient by collecting only relevant data in a very targeted fashion. It also avoids the expense of needing to procure additional storage hardware and software to manage the additional copy and the expense of network bandwidth, while enabling companies to use their existing storage resources more efficiently.
  • Access, search and even hold data at any location within an enterprise where data may accumulate. For instance, companies may view file servers and Microsoft Exchange and SharePoint data stores as logical places where corporate data will collect but there are many more. Data may also reside in corporate archives, backup repositories, databases and laptops and desktops. In-house eDiscovery tools need to transparently access, search and place legal holds on data in these different locations. This can become logistically difficult, especially when these data stores may be in remote and branch offices or only connect sporadically to the main corporate network, so the tool should possess the ability to reach into these respective data stores.
  • Match your company’s fluctuating search and access requirements. Companies may not fully grasp what it means to access, search and cull the terabytes or even petabytes of data that they possess in their enterprise. While the solution should be simple to deploy, the solution must also contain a high degree of sophistication so that companies can easily scale its capacity and performance capabilities. Features to look for include agent-less deployments which can access data at different geographic locations (data centers, remote offices), different data types (files, emails, PST, ZIP, etc.) and different data repositories (active content in the forms of file shares and email servers as well as file and email archives). Using these capabilities, companies can access and search as much corporate data as they need and produce needed results in the time frame requested.
  • The solution should create a data map that documents where the data is located. This is an important capability especially in light of the FRCP Meet & Confer requirements – it is critical to have a solution that can quickly discover ESI across the enterprise and provide a data map of it so that the legal team (inside and outside counsel) can make defensible early case assessments (ECA) about the litigation, thus avoiding unnecessary costs and liabilities/risk. Similarly, the ideal solution should be able to easily create a custodian map for analysis.

The savings a company can realize by deploying its own in-house eDiscovery solution versus using a third party can be substantial but only if a company selects a solution that meets its needs. Products that only partially fulfill the requirements of EDRM, fail to access and search all corporate data stores or cannot scale to meet enterprise requirements can leave a company hanging and still put it in a position where it needs a third party to do the work. But by quantifying what its needs are from the outset and then selecting the right solution, a company can eliminate the escalating costs of third party providers as well as the time and effort required to respond to new legal requests for data.

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