Clearwell Acquisition Puts Symantec on Path toward Offering an Automated In-House E-Discovery Solution

When Symantec announced in early June 2011 that it was acquiring Clearwell it was described by at least one analyst as not a shot but a cannon ball across the bow of competing archiving and e-discovery solutions. But what makes the combination of Enterprise Vault and the Clearwell E-Discovery Platform so powerful goes beyond the simple ability for enterprises to purchase these two leading products from Symantec. Rather Symantec has laid the foundation to provide enterprises an end-to-end automated in-house e-discovery solution.

Archiving and e-discovery are two disciplines that are closely linked but the linkage between the two has for the most part been a handshake agreement in terms of how they interact with each other. when doing e-discovery. The Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM) acts as a guideline as to how the overall e-discovery process should occur.

Archiving software such as Enterprise Vault handles the Information Management, Identification, Preservation and Collection of data while e-discovery software such as the Clearwell E-Discovery Platform does some Preservation and Collection with its major thrust being on the Process, Review and Analysis of the data.

While this informal relationship has worked relatively well over the years, this is rapidly changing. Enterprise companies are:

  • Creating more data internally
  • Facing new demands to manage and retain data that resides on internal and external social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and blogs
  • Having to retain and manage their data to comply with an increasing number of regulations
  • Seeing a continuing growth in litigation from internal and external sources

These factors put a strain on the hand-off of data from archiving software to e-discovery software. While archiving is a cost-effective way to store and retain data, just handing off an archival data store to the e-discovery software without any insight as to what information the data store contains has a number of drawbacks such as:

  • It may take hours, days or even weeks to search the archival data store for relevant information.  A terabyte of data may only contain a few gigabytes of information that is pertinent to a specific case. While a TB may not take a long time to process, Symantec is regularly encountering enterprise clients that have petabytes of data which can take a long time for e-discovery software to process, review and analyze.
  • Delays or incomplete information inhibit the ability for enterprises to make business decisions. Enterprise companies want to know whether or not there is a smoking gun in their data stores. So if the data shows they are guilty, they can look to settle or, if it reveals they are innocent, they can litigate/fight back. But it is the not knowing or waiting so long to get the needed information that results in companies having to make guesses as to how to best proceed that drives them crazy.
  • Ability and time to examine the information in context. Once the data store is processed by the e-discovery software, those responsible for reviewing the information need some context in which to understand the information that is presented to them. The ability of these reviewers to interpret this information in a timely and educated manner will depend heavily upon how soon the e-discovery software can produce the information, the reviewers’ familiarity with the enterprise and the reviewers’ own familiarity with the situation in question.

It is these last three forces that are driving a tighter marriage between archiving and e-discovery software and the demand for a solution that eliminates the arbitrary hand-off of archival data stores to e-discovery software. The amount of data, the costs associated with processing large amounts of data in short periods of time and the risks associated with not knowing what information is contained in the archival data store have made hand-offs increasingly unacceptable. What is needed in its stead is a solution that ties these two pieces together so enterprises can have their archival data stores but also have the information that they need at their fingertips when they need it.

This is why Symantec’s acquisition of Clearwell and its E-Discovery Platform is more than a nice complement to Enterprise Vault. In the immediate near term Clearwell affords enterprises the option to review and ready their Enterprise Vault data stores for any present or looming e-discoveries. But longer term it sets the stage for Symantec to integrate the functionality of both of these platforms so they can function as one and offer enterprises the automated, in-house e-discovery solution that today’s enterprise business environments increasingly demand.

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