Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Floodlight vs. Spotlight in eDiscovery Solutions

I had the privilege to be entertained and enlightened by a few recent demonstrations by leading eDiscovery/Legal Hold software vendors. After listening and looking at smoke and mirrors, each vendor revealed that their core competency still remains their strength and eDiscovery is an extension or add-on rather than a full fledged solution. The “floodlight” approach of these vendors to eDiscovery was not achievable given the current state of the offerings.

A true eDiscovery/Legal Hold vendor has yet to emerge. The add-on vendors flooded the market by buying the pure plays, but couldn’t have imagined the difficulties of integration that these add-ons have created. The issues behind efficient eDiscovery are squarely in the business’s camp and not in IT. Not one of the vendors mentioned the integral importance of common and historical metadata management. If the doc is not described well enough, good luck discovering it. If Record Management is not fully functionally incorporated into the business daily routine, docs will not be disposed of according to compliance mandates.

Search Vendor
Core: Index and Search Results
Platform: Most
Hold: Export out of repository to file system
Vision: Nice long-term story if affordable
Agent: stealth/regular desktop agents
Connectors: Most applications with varying levels of customization needed
Index: Best in class, but dependent on the source content's metadata accuracy
Collection: Kind of fuzzy given that the exports from repository are done without built in abilities to validate source content accuracy, ie. ways to test discrepancies.

Forensic Vendor
Core: chain of custody of collection
Platform: Windows
Hold: Office docs on file system by using extra control files for tracking
Vision: Deal with Windows file system content
Agent: no client agent
Connectors: Windows and SQL
Index: Dependent on other’s indexing
Collection: Searching and collecting are secondary to browsing and selection.

ECM Vendor
Core: Workflow, doc lifecycle, storage management
Platform: Most
Hold: Export out of repository to file system with xml metadata file. This potential removes the source context, auditing, and access control information from exported content. What about a hold inside the repository?
Vision: Partner with eDiscovery solutions and let them deal with the issues.
Agent: stealth/regular desktop agents
Connectors: Many, but disappointing connector to own system
Index: Does not compare to robust search engine eDiscovery product
Collection: Built-in export is marginal out-of-the-box and third party tools need customization for legal department export and metadata requirements.

When will eDiscovery solution providers design the foundation of their offerings around metadata/records management prerequisites and controlling the chain of custody? Of course this is not easy for any enterprise to achieve, but focusing a “spotlight” on specific areas and building the solution each area at a time will get this done. This “spotlight” approach will force the business unit that is most motivated to solve their organizational issues around RM and metadata. The policies and procedures can be created after the first spotlight is finished. Subsequent spotlights will be dependent on the quality of governance and policies in place.

The spotlight approach would show the strength of pure play solutions over floodlight enterprise solutions. The forensic vendor would shine when testing Windows file system content only which would be a bad start. The holy grail of all of these solutions is the ability to introduce a layer (like RM solutions) where the intelligence gained by indexing, searching, and collecting could be written back on the content for better future classifications and entrance to the semantic qualities of future systems.

1 comment:

mahak said...

We have very little knowledge about floodlight and spotlight.eDiscovery doing great job by giving us all the information.For flood lights they dont hav enough sources and spotlight also need concern.Good and knwlegable post.Keep it up
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