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Taneja Blog / eDiscovery

9 Top Trends in eDiscovery #4: eDiscovery in the Cloud

On the face of it, the cloud is just another data storage target and application delivery mechanism. However, there are serious legal and regulatory implications for some approaches to cloud-based storage. And this is exactly where the rosy predictions about cloud storage fail: security, privacy and defensibility can be difficult issues in the cloud.

However, not all cloud-based eDiscovery is created since not all of it represents big challenges. eDiscovery in the cloud falls into three distinct camps: 1) using the cloud for eDiscovery application delivery (SaaS), 2) archiving data to the cloud and contracting with the hosting provider to run eDiscovery processes, or 3) companies who store active data in the cloud that are subject to security, privacy and other regulatory actions.

The first activity is low risk since data stays behind the corporate firewall. Software glitches happen and can impact productivity – for example Google Apps failures – but in the long-term customer impact is minimal. The second activity is also low-risk if the customer has done their homework and chosen an eDiscovery service provider with a secure data center and excellent track record. They are not storing primary data but archived data, itself single-instance copies of backed up data. The third activity however is riskier by far than the first two. Even where the cloud provider is trusted, such as Google or Amazon, service level guarantees for the enterprise are notoriously poor. And these services also have few mechanisms in place to report on physical data locations to their customers, which can be a serious defensibility issue.

Our take: Cloud-based application delivery and archival hosting with eDiscovery represent excellent returns on investment. However, multi-national corporations need to practice excellent data governance when data centers are located in different countries with differing privacy and eDiscovery laws. And organizations that are storing primary data in the cloud should very carefully consider security, longevity and service agreements when researching cloud storage vendors.

Vendors we are following: CaseCentral, HP Autonomy, Orange LT, Google, Amazon

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  • Premiered: 12/19/11
  • Author: Taneja Group
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