Evidence. It is that crucial item that can exonerate a company or subject it to hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in penalties. So in today’s world where organizations are occasionally tasked with sorting through mountains of data stored on tape to locate a critical piece of information to proof innocence or guilt, the difference between the right technology and the wrong is what may determine whether or not an eDiscovery job gets done. This is what eClaris, an eDiscovery consulting firm, recently found when it selected Overland Storage and its NEO 4000e to do its eDiscovery from tape.
Quickly doing eDiscovery in today’s age of explosive data growth requires organizations adopt a sophisticated, scientific approach to accessing, indexing and searching data and especially as it pertains to data stored to tape. Many organizations still store both their archival and backup data stores on tape to take advantage of tape’s economy, portability and simplicity. But when it comes to accessing the data on these tapes as part of a broader eDiscovery search, the process gets a bit more complicated.
eClaris’ Founder and President, Jacques Ngue, explains that eDiscovery is all about examining massive volumes of information. The process generally involves extracting and analyzing the data from these tapes which is then used by eClaris to build repositories that act as data warehouses. He says, “Once the data is aggregated we can help a law firm produce the information it needs to complete its eDiscovery.”
It was this type of client request that recently led eClaris to select the NEO 4000e over competitive tape library models. eClaris was asked to assist a law firm in a search investigation that involved 1500 LTO-3 and LTO-1 tapes which contained approximately 1 petabyte (PB) of data. Further, there was a tight deadline associated with this investigation as eClaris had less than 60 days to extract the data, index the content and build a database that would end up holding close to 6 billion records.
To meet the objectives of this client’s project, eClaris needed a tape library that supported a large number of LTO tape cartridges as well as other intangible features such as:
- Quick turnaround. eClaris did not own a sufficiently large tape library that that could store all of their LTO tapes. So with the clock ticking, eClaris started to get bids on appropriately sized tape libraries only to find that it could take three (3) weeks or longer before they could get one onsite.
- Highly reliable. eClaris was no stranger to tape libraries having used them in prior search investigations but the high amount of data to go through coupled with the short window of time in which to complete the task made eClaris nervous. It had experienced as much as 10% downtime on other tape libraries it had owned and it did not have that luxury in this particular circumstance.
- Fast throughput. eClaris had less than 60 days to complete all of the tasks assigned to it but that did not mean it could spend the entire time accessing, indexing and searching the data on tape. All of the data had to be retrieved as quickly as possible from the tapes and, since many of the backup jobs consisted of multiple tapes (up to 40), it needed a tape library that supported multiple tape drives that could quickly stream the data from tape to disk so it could then be accessed, indexed and searched.
eClaris early on identified the Overland Storage NEO 4000e as a tape library that had the needed features to help it get the job done (support for up to 240 LTO tape cartridge slots and 16 LTO tape drives). However it was the intangible benefits that Overland Storage and the NEO 4000e provided that prompted eClaris to use Overland Storage to handle this particular tape eDiscovery case.
One of the main reasons that Overland Storage got the nod over its competitors was its ability to quickly deliver a tape library. As Ngue began looking to place an order for a tape library, he found that the lead time for comparable tape libraries from other vendors was well over three (3) weeks. He says, “Overland Storage was able to deliver its NEO 4000e in less than five (5) business days which was a definite plus.”
Once he had the NEO 4000e onsite, he got to experience firsthand some of the recent enhancements that Overland Storage made in its NEO 4000 product line. Going into this project he recognized that this project would put a tremendous amount of stress on the tape library since hundreds of tapes would be going into it. Tape cartridges would be rotated, read, rewound and reread so he was bracing for the tape library to experience some degree of fatigue as he knew it was a mechanical device and would be subject to failures under these types of conditions.
But in this case nothing happened. What he found remarkable about the NEO 4000e was that it did not have any of these issues. Ngue says, “The NEO 4000e was stellar in that we quickly came to learn we could count on it to run all night, all weekend, and even read data from tape 3 or 4 days straight without any problems.“
Finally eClaris took full advantage of all of the tape drives on the NEO 4000e. eClaris found that as it streamed data from tape to disk that the tape drives could achieve in production their advertised throughput LTO-4 tape drive performance rates of 120 MB/second native and 240 MB/second compressed. This enabled to eClaris to access the data it needed when it needed it without unnecessarily waiting on the tape library.
eDiscovery is never an easy task and doing eDiscovery that involves pulling back months or years of data stored on tape cartridges can make things even more complicated. Further, intangibles that may appear to have nothing to do with eDiscovery such as a vendor’s responsiveness, the reliability of the tape library and the throughput on the tape libraries are what may ultimately determine whether or not a tape eDiscovery is completed successfully.
It is this lesson that eClaris learned without going through the school of hard knocks. Choosing the Overland Storage NEO 4000e as its primary tape library to handle the retrieval of data gave eClaris the capacity and performance it needed. But because of Overland Storage’s prompt response and reliability, eClaris was able to take advantage of these features almost immediately and continuously utilize them without worries about unexpected periods of prolonged downtime.
In so doing, eClaris is now able to help its clients quickly and confidently get the evidence that they need from tape to successfully prove their innocence or convict the guilty. But regardless of guilt or innocence, eClaris’ Ngue says, “We would not be able to meet these tight deadlines that our clients sometimes place upon us when doing tape eDiscovery without the use of the NEO 4000e tape library.”