Lack of ESI is Losing Cases

A recent study from Symantec found that difficultly locating and collecting digital evidence has caused increased sanctions or case loss over the past two years. Up to 51% of lawyers surveyed had difficulty identifying and collecting ESI and have had to deal with repercussions as a result.

A whopping 98% of the surveyed lawyers said that electronic evidence is critical to the success of the trial. The question then becomes; Why are they not leveraging new technology and expert service providers in the collection process? The surveyed group felt that better search technology was required. Specifically, 57% said that ‘improvements to search technology used to identify, preserve and process electronically stored information’ was needed. These metrics indicate that lawyers are not up to date with the latest technology. They don’t know about technology that can process ESI faster than ever, up to 1 TB/Hr and get access to data even locked away on old backup tapes.

The solution is education. Law firms need to be informed about the latest technology in order to successfully execute their cases. Without this knowledge they cannot win. Index Engines provides technical education to law firms through webinar and events, and also writes white papers and articles aimed at education. Our goal is that as the education effort continues, more and more lawyers will head into court with the ESI required, rather than the excuses of why not.

Tape Remediation 101

Tape Remediation is a new trend in the stored data industry. The InfoRiskAwareness blog recently published an overview of this topic that outlines the why’s and how’s. Here’s a recap:

Tape remediation is a relatively new concept when dealing with legacy data; however, it’s quickly becoming a key concern for organisations. When outlining a new topic or idea, all good investigators go about filling in the five W’s, so this blog uses this same approach to help IT departments investigate this new information management method.

What is tape remediation?
Tape Remediation is the search, discovery and extraction of unstructured files and email contained on legacy backup tapes. Once this data is placed in its proper repository according to retention policies, tapes can be remediated or recycled. By indexing backup data and remediating the tapes, organisations will save significantly by reducing offsite storage costs, and reduce their risk of exposure from unknown legacy content lying undiscovered in offsite salt mines.

Why implement tape remediation?
New legal discovery requirements are forcing IT departments to produce data from legacy backup tapes. Ignoring these tapes and allowing them to stockpile is not a process endorsed by corporate legal. As a result tape remediation projects are being driven by corporate counsel in order to take control of liability and eliminate data that is no longer required. Also, storing thousands of backup tapes gets costly over time, as does the continuous purchase of new backup tapes. A remediation project will pay for itself rapidly and save the organisation future investments in both storage fees and tape purchases.

When should I start a tape remediation project?
The sooner the better. Proactive discovery and management of legacy data on tape is much preferable to a reactive eDiscovery fire drill. By implementing a near term tape remediation project, IT will be able to apply corporate retention policies to all historic data. This data can then enable informed decision making prior to litigation, and also serve as a corporate knowledge asset. Legal can then access data quickly and easily as it is needed and also perform early case assessments using actual corporate data.

Where do my tapes need to be moved?
If you store your tapes in a secure onsite facility no move is necessary – the technology needed for direct indexing can be brought to you. Or many skills eDiscovery consultancies, which adhere to strict chain of custody guidelines, are available to assist with a remediation project, but tape shipments to their facility would be required.

Who can perform a remediation project?
Tape remediation is easily executed by in-house IT staff. Direct tape indexing technology allows automated indexing, search and extraction of backup data contained on tape without the need to ever restore it. No special skills or historic backup software is needed for direct indexing. Corporate legal and records management will likely be involved to provide search terms, custodians and date ranges that are of interest. Trained discovery service providers are also available to work with you if you prefer to outsource a remediation project.

How does my organisation benefit from tape remediation?
In the past it was far too expensive and difficult to understand the content of old backup tapes. All email and files would need to be restored by the original backup software first, and then analysed in order to determine what to keep and what to purge. Restoring thousands or tens of thousands of tapes was out of the question. It would take too much time, money and legacy infrastructure.

The problem has now been solved by eliminating the need for expensive and time consuming backup restoration and applying a more intelligent approach. Direct indexing technology scans tapes and then searches and extracts specific files and email without the original backup software. This allows you to only deal with relevant files (typically less than 2% of the tape content) and not the bulk of useless content. Direct indexing has made tape remediation an achievable, affordable project that reduces corporate data storage expenses and minimises risk of sensitive, undiscovered data.

By outlining the 5 W’s of tape remediation it quickly becomes clear that this type of project will reduce risk and save money for organisations. It takes a shift in mentality for organisations to begin digging up tapes created for disaster recovery and start moving or remediating this data. However it’s the prudent thing to do in the age of ever growing volumes of data, tighter budgets, strict compliance guidelines and a very real risk of liability.

Update from ILTA 2010

At the ILTA annual conference I had the opportunity to speak with a number of law firms in Vegas this week. A recurring theme that came through during these meetings was that litigation support teams are still under pressure to control costs and manage projects with fewer resources. They see no light at the end of this tunnel – deadlines are shorter and budgets are tighter than ever.

To overcome these challenges many law firms are looking for new and innovative methods for ESI collection. In the past most organizations worked either directly, or via service providers, with tools that would perform the identification, deduplication, culling, and detailed analysis of ESI within one platform. These tools charge a per GB rate that is in the hundreds of dollars. To alleviate some of the pressure to cut costs, litigation support specialists are looking for lower costs tools to perform upfront identification, dedupe and culling of the initial large dataset. By reducing the dataset up front and using the more expensive analysis tools with a smaller volume of relevant data discovery costs will be reduced. This concept is in line with Index Engines focus on performing initial bulk culling to reduce the downstream review and analysis costs. For example, Index Engines identification, deduping, and culling of online ESI can be performed for less than $50/GB. This is far less expensive versus the hundreds of dollars per GB charged by analysis tools. Combining the two solutions, first pass bulk culling, followed by the detailed analysis saves overall costs of ESI collection.

Controlling costs has been a major theme at ILTA for quite a while. Litigation support professionals will continue to find the right tool at the right price to get the job done. Index Engines Unified Discovery Platform, which collects data from backup tapes, forensic images, hard drives and networks has gained in popularity for this reason. Index Engines is focused on providing the most efficient and cost effective solution to collect ESI.

The Proof is in the Patent

There is lots of talk in the eDiscovery industry about speeds and feeds. As soon as Index Engines had validated 1 TB/Hr/node indexing, other vendors were announcing similar fast processing claims. A side by side benchmark of these platforms would require a tremendous volume of data and a huge variety of files and backup formats. This setup is quite a roadblock for many independent product reviewers. So how does one decide what’s true and what’s hype? A simple answer would be to put faith in the US and European patent offices.

On August 11th, Index Engines announced the receipt of US patent #7756837 and Euro patent # 1 738 260 DE FR GB for the technology behind Index Engines Unified Discovery Platform. The Index Engines patents were awarded for the development of streaming indexing technology. All other indexing solutions require random access to data in order to generate a searchable index. Index Engines has engineered a platform that performs sequential processing of data. This now patented approach enables the indexing of electronic data as it flows to backup, as well as unprecedented, high speed indexing of network data at 1TB/hour.

These patents serve as further validation that Index Engines is leading the information discovery market with an innovative approach to indexing enterprise data. No other indexing platform can claim patented technology as the secret sauce behind fast and efficient information discovery. These patents prove that the technology supporting Index Engines discovery platform is not just another me-too approach.

Backup Tapes as Litigation Hold

An article published in the July 19th issue of the New Jersey Law Journal explores the idea of using data locked away on backup tape as the source for eDiscovery. The article, Proven Methods to Prevent Spoilation of Online Data, points to the impenetrable nature backup tapes, and conversely the dynamic environment that houses online data. Online data is subject to editing or deletion even after a litigation hold notice is issued – emails can be deleted and documents can be overwritten. However, the smoking gun still exists on backup tape, which has preserved an unspoiled version of all corporate data including that relevant to a litigation event. In years past tape discovery was cumbersome and expensive. But the dawn of technology that indexes data directly from tape, without restoration, allows the fast and easy access to ESI to support litigation. By indexing the data on tape, either from last night’s routine backup, or from a forensic snapshot stored to tape, eDiscovery teams can be assured that the tape data has not been tampered with.

Fast Indexing Across All Major Storage Platforms

The volume of corporate data contained in network attached storage (NAS) grows daily. The amounts are many magnitudes greater than the data contained on the Internet. How can any enterprise attempt to manage it? After today’s announcement by Index Engines, the discovery of corporate data got quite a bit easier. Online data, stored on all major commercially available NAS platforms, can be indexed and made searchable at 1 TB per hour per indexing node. Index Engines’ press release today announced the validation of data residing on HP and NetApp storage systems at these unmatched indexing speeds. HP and NetApp join EMC, Data Domain and BlueArc, which have previously validated Index Engines 1 TB/Hr indexing speeds. By demonstrating this powerful indexing capability across the platforms that hold the majority of the storage market share, Index Engines has made it feasible for enterprise IT teams to regain control of their stored data.

Save Money With Bulk Culling

The unit cost to identify and collect online data on hard drives, CD/DVD’s and network storage has dropped significantly over the past few years. However since the volume of data being examined during a discovery project has grown dramatically, the total project cost can still be quite high. Many tools used for the collection and discovery process contain advanced review capabilities. These are the tools the market is familiar with and ESI collected during eDiscovery is often delivered in formats compatible with these “household names”. However these tools can be expensive, often hundreds of dollars per GB. When dealing with a small collection, this may not be a significant added expense. However as the volume of ESI grows beyond the GB’s into the TB’s the total cost can quickly inflate.

The concept of two pass culling is gaining popularity. During the first pass, or bulk culling, the data is indexed, deduped and deNISTed and then the content is searched. This pass is performed first to cull the data down to a relevant subset, and is then delivered into the review platform for refined search and presentation to the client. When Index Engines is used for first pass culling the per GB fees are a mere fraction of what popular review platforms charge for culling. Breaking apart the culling process into two phases allows for tremendous cost savings. ESI will still be delivered in the client’s platform of choice, however the first pass of the data can be completed faster and more cost effectively.

Legal Tech Cites Backup Headaches

Legal Tech Newsletter recently published “Top Five Backup Headaches Solved“. Authored by Jim McGann, VP at Index Engines, this article compiles common frustrations enterprise IT teams are encountering regarding data contained on backup tapes. Corporations are dealing with eDiscovery projects and electronic compliance regulations that more and more often require the disclosure of data from tape. McGann lists out the struggles IT is having and then offers the balm of direct tape indexing. Whether it is a reactive search through tape data to support litigation, or a proactive effort to get historical data under control, your head doesn’t need to pound. Index Engines platform automates the direct indexing of data on tape, removes the pain of restoration, making quick and easy work of tape discovery.

As eDiscovery Costs Decrease, Volumes Increase

In a recent Law.com article, Jason Krause discusses a paradigm shift in eDiscovery. Technology is simplifying the discovery process and the per tape/GB price has been reduced. But the volume of data being considered for discovery is growing. So the overall cost of eDiscovery projects and the size of the eDiscovery market is expanding. Back when Zubulake was first ruled on, social media, audio and video files, and other such data types were not in the eDiscovery mix. But they are today. The eDiscovery market still grapples with what is considered burdensome. Index Engines technology has made tape discovery quick and affordable. According to Krause’s article,When is an E-Discovery Burden an Undue Burden?, the terms of the burden argument are changing. Index Engines and our partners certainly know that tape is no longer a dead stop. Implementing 1 TB/Hr indexing, large volumes are easier than ever before too. However, the scope of enterprise data is boundless, making the burden a changing but still relevant argument.

Freedom to Choose – Data Migration Made Easy

Organizations often live for years with their backup software vendor, even if over time the vendor may not be the best choice for the organization. As time progresses the needs of the organization may change, the cost and maintenance fees for the backup software may become unacceptable, or the functionality may fall behind when compared to new offerings. Companies may want to change their provider and upgrade to a new backup solution that better meets their needs. However many companies feel locked into their current provider. “Locked” because they have significant volumes of historical data contained on tapes created using their current provider’s solution. Migrating to a new backup solution makes this data inaccessible, a risk no company wants to face.

What if there was a way to break free of this risk, and choose the backup strategy that meets the organizations needs today, rather than living with the choice from yesterday? Index Engines recently authored an article on this subject for Computer Technology Review entitled Backup Data Migration Made Easy. In this article, Jim McGann outlines how organizations can avoid the risk of switching to a new backup strategy. By leveraging indexing technology that allows the search and access to backup data regardless of format, enterprise IT teams can now get at historical data without having to maintain the legacy backup infrastructure. This access can be used to migrate valuable data into an archive of their choice. Or simply serve to provide access after the organization switches to a new backup strategy. Either way – the choice is there, enabling freedom to choose a backup strategy that matches current needs.