Category Archives: Enterprise eDiscovery

Cloud Search: Not As Simple As You Think

By Barry Murphy

Corporations and Government agencies are moving data to the Cloud in droves.  No matter which analyst firm you look to on Cloud storage adoption, you will find consistent results:

  • Forrester Research reports that 40% of enterprises surveyed indicated they have already rolled out workloads on public clouds or have near-term plans to do so and that the number will increase to 50% this year.
  • IDC predicts that from 2013–2017 public IT cloud services will have a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23.5%, five times that of the IT industry as a whole.
  • Gartner says Cloud Computing Will Become the Bulk of New IT Spend by 2016 and that spending on public Cloud services will have a CAGR of 17.7% from 2011 – 2016, with spending on Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) itself will have a CAGR of 41.3% in that time period.
  • In eDJ Group’s recent Cloud services adoption fast poll, Greg Buckles found that less than 5% of respondents reported that all information is kept on-premise on company infrastructure and cloud services are not being actively considered.

Cloud-icon_magnifying-glassNo matter where data is being stored, though, the fact remains that the ability to search that data will be critically important.  Workers still demand unified access to email, files, and SharePoint information, and they want fast-as-you-type search results regardless of where the data lives.  In addition, Legal teams require that search queries and collections execute within specific time-frames.  But, Cloud search is slow, as indexes live far from the information.  This results in frustrated workers and Legal teams afraid that eDiscovery cannot be completed in time.

Lest you think this is not a big deal, consider the following story.  When I was at eDJ, we worked with a very large enterprise client that wanted to move its collaboration system to the Cloud.  The problem was that the Cloud system the client was contracting with could not meet the Legal Department’s requirements for speed of query results and collection.  This significantly slowed down the movement to the Cloud until the client had worked with the Cloud vendor to ensure that search and collection could execute at the necessary speeds.  The delay frustrated an IT team anxious to reap the promised benefits of the Cloud and cost the project team significant man-hours.

This story highlights the need to granularly define search and eDiscovery requirements before moving data to the Cloud.  Most “cloud search” solutions pass queries through connectors, and then the Cloud vendor needs to figure out where in its vast data center the index lives, find the content, return the query result, and then the customer will need to download all the content.  The result is a slow search and another copy of the data downloaded on premise, which basically defeats the purpose of moving to the Cloud in the first place.

If a customer wanted to speed up search, it would have to essentially attach an appliance to a hot-air balloon and send it up to the Cloud provider so that the customer’s index could live on that appliance (or farm of appliances) in the Cloud providers data center, physically near the data.  There are many reasons, however, that a Cloud provider would not allow a customer to do that:

  • Long install process
  • Challenging pre-requisites
  • 3rd party installation concerns
  • Physical access
  • Specific hardware requirements
  • They only scale vertically

The solution to a faster search is a cloud-deployable search application, such as X1 Rapid Discovery.  This creates a win-win for Cloud providers and customers alike.  As enterprises move more and more information to the Cloud, it will be important to think about workers’ experiences with Cloud systems – and search is one of those user experiences that, if it is a bad one, can really negatively affect a project and cause user revolt.

 

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Filed under Cloud Data, Enterprise eDiscovery, Enterprise Search, Information Access, Virtualized Environment

Search as a Desktop Virtualization Enabler

Desktop_virtualizationby Barry Murphy

 

Too often, search is taken for granted.  When I first started doing research on eDiscovery in the cloud, the prevailing attitude was, “as long as information is searchable, eDiscovery is taken care of.”  Sadly, many organizations have learned the hard way that it is not that easy.  There is much more to search than meets the eye.  But, most organizations do not figure that out until it is too late – until search does not work in the desired manner or at the required speed.

eDiscovery is not the only area where search is overlooked and becomes an issue.  In fact, search is a critical function for today’s knowledge worker.  Despite the importance of information access, unified search of workers’ most critical assets (email, files, desktop content, and SharePoint) is not always a huge requirement of IT organizations.  It is to end-users, however, and that is one of the reasons that X1 has had such success with the Search 8 product – it has a user-friendly interface that provides simple, fast access to the information assets users need the most.

The lesson that I have taken away from being involved in the search market is that search as a standalone application may not seem sexy, but it provides a real return on investment.  It also allows organizations to ensure that investments in other technologies are optimized.  This fact can be seen especially in virtual desktop (VDI) environments.  Desktop virtualization promises many benefits: lower IT costs; streamlined administration of IT assets; and end-user flexibility in terms of accessing the desktop from anywhere.  Given the popularity of BYOD, the consumerization of IT, and the need for mobility to support telecommuting, VDI is becoming more and more important.

It is the little details of IT projects, however, that can have big impact on results.  Some organizations find that the cost savings anticipated from VDI are less than expected because of high disk resources necessary to support Windows indexing on the virtual desktop.  Or, best practice is followed and Windows indexing is turned off – and then users are unable to search for information on their desktops.  There are two possible outcomes from this, and both are bad:  either users are rendered unproductive because they cannot easily find information or they simply reject the virtual desktop and find ways around the system.

In order to ensure that VDI deployments meet expectations, organizations can build unified search into requirements early on.  At the very least, this will help to ensure that end-users are more receptive to the virtual desktop and allow them to remain productive.  Getting end-users to buy in is often half the battle when deploying new technology.  As I mentioned, though, search is often an afterthought – an issue that only comes up after a VDI deployment where end-users complain or reject the solution outright.  That is why it is important to make search a requirement early on.

When it comes to VDI environments, a good search solution must decouple the search UI from the indexing service.  Otherwise, indexing will require virtual desktop computing resources and cut into VDI cost savings.  The goal is to minimize the RAM usage and search client footprint on the virtual desktop.   It sounds simple, but traditional search solutions are not architected for this.  We at X1 are doing a webinar with Citrix on this very issue – enabling lightning-fast search in VDI environments.  The webinar is on April 10, 2014 at 1pm ET / 10am PT.  Please click here if you would like to join us to learn how to use search to enable optimization of desktop virtualization deployments.

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Filed under Desktop Search, Enterprise eDiscovery, Information Access

Highlights from Reed Smith’s SharePoint eDiscovery Webinar

by John Patzakis

Reed Smith recently hosted an excellent webinar on SharePoint eDiscovery challenges, led by Patrick Burke with the firm’s eDiscovery team. The webinar featured a substantive and detailed discussion on the nuances, pitfalls and opportunities associated with eDiscovery of data from SharePoint sites. This topic is very timely as the majority of enterprises are deploying the Microsoft platform at an accelerated rate, with the solution reaching $1 billion in sales faster than any other Microsoft product in history. Burke noted that “SharePoint has exploded across corporate networks, and are filling rapidly with ESI,” but that “the bad news is that it’s not centralized. There is no single place to go to search through the ESI across an organization’s SharePoint sites to identify which SharePoint Site holds the ESI you’re looking for.”

As SharePoint enables enterprises to consolidate file shares, Intranet sites, internal message boards and wikis, project management, collaboration and more into a single platform, it provides significant operational efficiencies as well as eDiscovery challenges. The vast majority of current SharePoint deployments are versions 2007 or 2010, and neither have meaningful internal eDiscovery or even export features. This is one reason why SharePoint eDiscovery is fraught with over-collection, resulting in much higher costs and time delays that what is typically seen with other similar data stores such as email servers and file shares.

In addressing best practices for eDiscovery of SharePoint sites, Burke advised, among other key points, that the litigation hold process must not only involve individual custodians but the SharePoint administrator as well: “As it usually isn’t feasible to search all an organization’s SharePoint sites, the first step is to talk to the key custodians (through litigation hold questionnaire processes) and ask them which SharePoint sites they use (to identify) relevant ESI.” From there, “the cross-check involves talking with the SharePoint administrator, who can look up all the SharePoint sites to which the custodian’s belong.”

A full video recording of the webinar can be accessed here >

Appliance-based eDiscovery solutions or remote collections do not work as it may take weeks, if not months, to copy a multi-terabyte SharePoint site over a network connection and a large corporation may have several dozens of SharePoint silos from which to collect.  Manual collection efforts, which are geared toward mass “data dumps,” are also time consuming and are typically very costly due to the extensive processing and data massaging required to put the SharePoint data back into context.

Instead, what is needed is a solution such as X1 Rapid Discovery can quickly and remotely install and operate within the same local network domain to enable localized search, review and early case assessment in place. X1 Rapid Discovery’s full content indexing and preview of native SharePoint document libraries and lists, as well as its robust search, document filters, intuitive review interface uniquely enables targeted and contextual search, preservation and export of SharePoint evidence in its native format. In fact, we believe it is the only solution available that enables true in-place early case assessment and eDiscovery review of SharePoint sites, including iterative search, tagging and full fidelity preview in place, without the requirement to first export all of the data out of the platform.

To learn more, sign on to the recorded webinar or please contact us for a further briefing to learn how to save your organization or your clients tens of thousands of dollars on litigations costs associated with SharePoint.

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Filed under Best Practices, Case Law, eDiscovery & Compliance, Enterprise eDiscovery, Information Access, Preservation & Collection

Barry Murphy Joins the X1 Team

Last week, I said goodbye to my time at the eDJ Group, a company in good hands that will continue to provide top notch eDiscovery and information governance consulting at a level of depth very few can match.   This week begins my new adventure as Senior Vice President of Product Marketing and Strategy at X1, and I am very excited about the opportunity.

Many have asked why I chose to join X1 and I want to take this space today to explain the reasons.  As an analyst for the past four years, I have had the chance to see – up close and personal – the challenges that enterprise IT and business people are trying to address.  One that comes up consistently is the ability to quickly find information in a world where the volume of it is increasing so rapidly.  While search might seem relatively simple, I can tell you that many clients pull their hairs out due to frustration with enterprise search deployments.

Thus, the first thing that hit me about X1 was the number of X1 customers whose top point to make about that product is that “it just works.”  Business people like the ease of use and clean, single-pane-of glass view of their information, Legal teams like how X1 Rapid Discovery makes eDiscovery more efficient and less costly, and IT teams like that the product can be deployed in increasingly virtualized environments.

Part of the attraction to X1, for me, is the fact that the company can address such a range of solutions via a powerful search engine.  It is not just about eDiscovery, though there is a product for that.  Rather, X1 will power many solutions by providing easy access to information – and the company does it in a way that just works.  It makes me think back to those old BASF commercials – the ones where BASF says, “we don’t make the products you buy, we make the products you buy better.”  I get a feeling that same message can apply at X1; something along the lines of “we don’t make the cloud infrastructure, we make the cloud infrastructure better and more valuable.”

Stay tuned for more details on how X1 will make other solutions better and continue to provide great search products in 2014.  I’m looking forward to this adventure.

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Filed under eDiscovery & Compliance, Enterprise eDiscovery, Information Access, Information Governance, Information Management

eDiscovery Software Industry Faces Transition

changes aheadRecently, the eDiscovery and litigation support field has seen many developments reflecting a significant shift in the eDiscovery software industry. Greg Buckles and Barry Murphy of The eDiscovery Journal report in several articles and notes in the past few weeks that they see a palpable transition away from software back towards services by corporations seeking to address their eDiscovery requirements. So not surprisingly, there had been various reports indicating reductions in force at several of the top eDiscovery software providers.

Not to pick on Guidance Software, my former company, but they are publically traded and recently disclosed their aggressive cost-cutting measures. In their PowerPoint presentation, Guidance states that the eDiscovery software field “is maturing…not as many large deals available there” resulting in a strategy for the company to refocus on core computer forensics and computer security, and to pivot toward profitability over topline revenue growth. And I don’t think what Guidance is experiencing is much different than from what many other eDiscovery software firms in the space are going through.

And neither does industry analyst Barry Murphy. “Based on what I see, KCura with their Relativity product is doing well, and I think there has been some good growth in the mobile forensics space, and X1 has done well with X1 Social Discovery in terms of growth and customer acquisition. Other than that, it seems that the remaining eDiscovery software companies are either contracting or experiencing only very modest growth.”

Part of the problem is that many aggressive enterprise eDiscovery deployments never achieve their promise of global scalability. A little over a year ago, the CEO of another eDiscovery and forensics software firm publicly claimed that enterprise-wide Autonomy implementations for eDiscovery, in his opinion, never really worked that well from what he could see. Without commenting on or taking a position on the accuracy of that assertion, the article does reflect broader frustrations I have heard from IT and in-house counsel about eDiscovery software in general that claims to be an end-to-end solution for aggressive and enterprise-wide deployments. As a result, many corporate legal departments and corporate IT have opted to continue to outsource eDiscovery to service providers over attempting to implement enterprise-wide solutions.

On the other hand, and reflective of this trend, services firms in this space are apparently doing quite well and their numbers are growing. There are clearly hundreds, if not over a thousand consulting firms, in North America providing eDiscovery consulting services. In just one metric, two years since we launched X1 Social Discovery, nearly 200 eDiscovery and computer forensics firms have become paying customers, and many more are currently evaluating. Some firms have a single license of X1, many have multiple, even dozens. I think those figures reflect both the number of service providers in this space and the aggressive spending behavior from the providers.

I also think, and of course being biased, that with X1 Social Discovery gaining over 400 paid install sites in just two years since the launch of the product, with 250 percent increase in annual sales in 2013, is quite an accomplishment especially given the status of this market. I think that reflects both the quality of X1 Social Discovery as well as the compelling use case of the collection and preservation of social media data for discovery and investigative purposes. So I want to take this opportunity to thank our customers for making 2013 a great year for us and driving the further development and enhancements of our products.

I’m looking forward very much to Legal Tech New York this year, both to meet with our customers old and new, and to speak with some fellow executives about how they are adapting to the changes in the eDiscovery market and opportunities in 2014. I hope to see you there!

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Filed under eDiscovery & Compliance, Enterprise eDiscovery, Social Media Investigations