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Information Taming Technologies – The New Buzz Phrase?

IDC published their key findings from the annual Digital Universe study (sponsored by EMC), highlighting just how much information we’re all creating and using.  In EMC’s press release, we highlighted the following:  “Information Taming” technologies are driving down the cost of creating, capturing, managing and storing information—one-sixth the cost in 2011 versus 2005.”  Information Taming Technologies!  What a name!

I would consider the SourceOne family of Information Governance products to be “information taming technologies.”  For example, SourceOne products can help archive inactive content from production environments. This leads to improved application performance, improved backup operations and reduced costs through tiered storage – all while preserving the user experience.  If those benefits are delivered, I would say Continue reading


Forensic Imaging – eDiscovery Overkill?

This week I had the pleasure of working with Brian Babineau from  Enterprise Strategy Group on an EMC sponsored webinar on In-House eDiscovery ROI.  During the Q&A session, an attendee asked:

“We use in-house forensic imagining tools to preserve and collect data and send it out to our outside counsel to review.  Why should we move to an in-house eDiscovery solution when this system seems to work well for us?”

I want to explore that concept a little more here because I suspect many corporations are relying solely on these tools to do eDiscovery in order to avoid taking a more focused approach that may have more upfront costs.

If you have an eDiscovery process that in your opinion works, then you should Continue reading

The Ghosts of eDiscovery Past, Present and Future

This is the time of year when many make predictions for 2011.  But while we try to look forward, the reality is that as an industry, we have not yet conquered our eDiscovery challenges from 2010 – or even 2009 or earlier!  In the spirit of the season and with a nod to Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, I decided to take a Scrooge-based approach to eDiscovery.  Without further ado, I present the ghosts of eDiscovery Past, Present and Future.

eDiscovery Past

In the early days of eDiscovery, even before the amendments to the FRCP in December 2006, we all made plenty of mistakes as we learned about this challenging new area.  Many of our problems resulted from collecting and preserving electronically stored information (ESI) from backup tapes; artificially segmenting the eDiscovery process into three stages known informally as “collect stuff”, “throw stuff over the wall” and “review stuff”; and pretending that eDiscovery either was a passing fad, or just could not be as difficult as we had heard.

While the list of mistakes and challenges from the past is virtually limitless (see Ralph Losey’s recent blog entry on this issue), many of these mistakes really boiled down to a few fundamental issues:  a lack of coordination and communication between Legal and IT (and Records Management or “RM”); and a lack of basic knowledge on IT systems from people working in legal roles.

If these ghosts of eDiscovery past continue to plague you, next year resolve to:

  • Have your legal team learn at least the basics about your IT infrastructure;
  • Insure that Legal, IT (and RM) coordinate, communicate and interact on a regular basis; and
  • Have a basic plan, prepared in advance, for what to do when eDiscovery hits.

eDiscovery Present

Over the last year, we continued to struggle with the concept of when sanctions should be awarded for eDiscovery blunders, and how we should determine the severity of those sanctions.  In fact, these are such difficult issues that there is currently disagreement even within the same jurisdiction (compare Pension Committee of the University of Montreal Pension Plan, et al. v. Banc of America Securities, et al., 2010 WL 184312 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 15, 2010) (Amended Order) with Orbit One Commc’ns, Inc. v. Numerex Corp., 2010 WL 4615547 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 26, 2010)).

But there were several other trends that rang through loud and clear.  One of the clearest trends is that there is significant risk in relying upon employees to preserve and collect their own data for eDiscovery.  (See our “Weekend At Bernie’s” post).  While there is still no absolute prohibition, the problem with “custodian-based eDiscovery” is that employees can be self-interested or uninterested in a case, making it risky to assume that they will do what they are asked.  Even for those who are sufficiently motivated, many will still fail because they are under-educated on both legal and IT issues.  This makes it exceptionally difficult for them to determine what ESI should be retained as relevant to a case, and how to properly find and preserve that ESI.

Another clear trend is that unintentional – and even seemingly minor and understandable—eDiscovery blunders can cascade into prejudicing a case and result in severe sanctions.  (See Harkabi v. Sandisk Corp., 08 Civ. 8203 (WHP) (S.D.N.Y. Aug, 23, 2010).

A trend that has been around for a while, but seems to finally be gaining momentum, is enforcing the point that litigation holds do not begin upon receipt of the first Request For Production of Documents, or even upon being served with a Complaint.  Instead, the hold duty attaches when one can reasonably anticipate litigation, which typically occurs before the data of service (and for plaintiffs, will certainly occur before filing the Complaint).  Courts are beginning to take a closer look at when a party’s preservation process actually began, so companies need to get legal informed about litigation threats so that decisions on holds can be made at the right time.

If these ghosts have the chance of haunting you, next year resolve to:

  • Rely more upon your eDiscovery team of investigators and counsel, and arm them with useful technologies to complete their work.  Merely hoping that your employees are handling the preservation and collection of critical ESI is no longer a viable option;
  • Review your eDiscovery processes to insure that litigation holds are integrated into your business processes.  This will insure that holds can be recognized at the appropriate time and not just after litigation has already commenced.

eDiscovery Future

There are two main roads that the ghost of eDiscovery Future can take.  The first is the obvious road of emerging and future technologies.  For 2011, emerging issues will clearly include the Cloud and social media technologies such as Facebook and Twitter, and we will certainly see some new technologies that we have not yet even worried about.

The second road in the future is more sinister, and relates to issues that we should already be aware of but have failed to adequately address because they have not yet risen to the right level.  These issues are actually riskier because we should be prepared, and mistakes with these technologies may not be viewed in a forgiving light because we should know better.  As a few examples, this group would include legal issues around international data privacy, data stored in Sharepoint repositories, and structured databases.

It is difficult to predict what you should do about the ghosts of eDiscovery Future, but consider a few possible resolutions for the new year:

  • At minimum, update your ESI Map to include basic information about data that may be outside your firewall (such as outsourced Email and other Cloud technologies, Facebook, Twitter, etc.);
  • If you transact business outside the U.S., understand the basics of privacy law and determine whether and how they may impact you in normal litigation matters; and
  • Subscribe to a publication that will keep you updated on the latest legal and technology developments (Law Technology News and its Daily Alert are terrific, free resources).

Good luck in 2011!

EMC SourceOne…We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby!

It is with great pride that I write this blog.  What’s the news?  EMC is positioned as a “challenger” In the first ever Enterprise Information Archiving Magic Quadrant published by the Gartner, Inc.   This magic quadrant replaces the former “Email Active Archiving” Magic Quadrant as the last stand-alone email archiving Magic Quadrant was published in 2009.

Here is the magic quadrant graphic from the first Enterprise Information Archiving Magic Quadrant, published by Gartner in October 2010:

As you know, I’ve been active with SourceOne and in delivering the Information Governance message around the world.  I have the opportunity to talk with partners and customers on more than half the continents, and I’ve observed the similarity in their information management challenges.  More importantly, I’ve also seen the consistent and measurable results that customers are reporting from deploying Information Governance technologies –

  • Reducing operational costs
  • Assisting with mail platform upgrades
  • Reducing time and cost of eDiscovery
  • Making it easier to find information

Gartner echoes these drivers in the Enterprise Information Archiving Magic Quadrant.  In fact, I believe that Gartner gives further credibility to our perspective that archiving is foundational technology for Information Governance.    So the nice thing here is that EMC’s Information Governance strategy and our focus on key enabling technologies is in alignment with the major market drivers.  From a customer perspective, that should give you confidence that our product roadmap is designed to address your key challenges around your biggest headaches – email and file servers in particular.  And while you might not be there yet – SharePoint is looming on the horizon.  When you are ready to address SharePoint management challenges, EMC is ready.

To put this magic quadrant in perspective, I think it is worthwhile to look at EMC’s placement in this market space and the challenges we’ve overcome.    Nearly five years ago when I started working in this product group, EMC was a challenger in the email archiving market by multiple analyst viewpoints.  But then EMC started to lose ground in the market to the point where we became clustered with lots of smaller vendors as a niche player.  In hindsight, 2008-2009 was a dark period for us.  We were on the brink of a new product introduction.  The market was moving forward with new feature enhancements, but at EMC we held steady on the need to re-architect the underlying foundation of our archiving product.

Then we launched SourceOne, which raised concerns among customers and analysts that we had a Version 1.0 product.  We disproved the risk, and at this point I’m proud to say that we have more than 600 customers globally for SourceOne Email Management.  And we now have more content archiving types than email on the SourceOne platform.  In order to be considered for the 2010 Enterprise Information Archiving Magic Quadrant, the vendor needed to have email and file server archiving.  EMC offers SourceOne for File Systems and also SourceOne for Microsoft SharePoint on the same underlying architecture as SourceOne Email Management.  So in hindsight, our decision to focus on an architecture revamp first is proving to be the right decision.

Another area where we struggled was with EMC’s e-discovery capabilities.  For this reason, EMC acquired Kazeon in September 2009 and the Kazeon capabilities are now integrated into the SourceOne family.   Since the acquisition, we’ve made the SourceOne archive one of the targets that Kazeon can discover against.  And we have the unique advantage that Kazeon can write to Documentum, allowing us to enforce legal holds with Documentum Records Management.

Understandably, many customers use the Gartner Magic Quadrant to help narrow their vendor selection.  In 2010, EMC is finally back where we believe we belong – as a challenger in the space for enterprise information archiving.   With our focus on execution, I hope next year we’ll see an even better improvement on this axis.  But what I’m really keen to see is how the evolution of our roadmap propels us from Challenger to Leader.

Managing Information Chaos

EMC World 2010 in Boston was alive and vibrant.  There was an excitement and buzz around the show that I think was missing last year.  Particularly because I think people are feeling more confident. The economy seems to be on the upswing, which means that budgets and project funding are coming back – even if at a cautious pace.   As we do each year, EMC put on a fantastic show – both socially and from a professional development standpoint.  The show floor was packed, sessions were well attended, and the parties were rocking.  All in an all – it was a super event.

For me personally, this was my 5th EMC World.  This year was different for me.  For one, I’m now based in the United Kingdom, so it is a new experience to travel overseas to my home country for our corporate event.  Second, the messaging around the journey to the private cloud is so pervasive and well targeted.  I think across the board EMC has the potential to really truly change the IT dynamics for our customers – and it is exciting to be a part of the revolution.

For my part, I look at how the SourceOne products have relevance to the private cloud.  Since we announced SourceOne last year, we are on a mission to equate SourceOne with Information Governance, which really plays well to a challenge that customers will have across both the public and private cloud. Information Governance is about the technologies and policies to help our customers to understand what and where information is stored.  I see this concept of information visibility and management being even more of a challenge in the journey to the private cloud.  Information might be stored in a combination of onsite and in the cloud, and without proper management of its lifecycle there is great likelihood of information chaos.

It’s more than a question of what’s stored and where – our view is that Information Governance should help you to understand what you have stored, how it should be classified, how it should be managed and who should have access.  In short, it’s the holistic approach to managing your information across its lifecycle so that it continues to feed your customer service, your competitive advantage and your next innovation.  Whatever your industry, information is at the heart of your business.

I talked with many customers across multiple industries, countries and even organizational sizes at EMC World.  The common theme is that information growth has reached the point where it is weighing down production systems and sprawled in such as way that it’s difficult for anyone to find what is relevant.  For that specific reason, we introduced the SourceOne family – to help you reign in your information chaos.  Over the past year we have evolved the SourceOne family from email management to a broader portfolio that includes eDiscovery, SharePoint management and soon to follow other tools to gain control of your unstructured information.

If you have similar challenges with information chaos as well, why not check out what Information Governance can do for you at www.emc.com/sourceonecity.