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With the proliferation of corporate data and documentation, e-discovery is rapidly becoming one of the costliest aspects of litigation. The cost of collecting information can range from $125 to $6,700 per gigabyte, according to data from the Rand Corporation. Since this expense is generally managed by legal departments, companies do not always realize that it can be mitigated by redesigning IT processes and storage management strategies. By working with a managed hosting service provider, organizations can consolidate storage and simplify e-discovery.
One of the greatest contributors to the cost of e-discovery is the increasingly dispersed nature of enterprise storage. With documents stored on mobile devices, personal computers, corporate servers or unsanctioned public cloud services, tracking down information can require extensive searching - leaving many companies coming up short. A recent ReRez survey found that while the average organization received 17 legal requests related to electronic file recovery last year, companies were late or completely unsuccessful in filling them 31 percent of the time.
Complicating recovery is the fact that many companies retain unneeded data. The study's researchers estimated 38 percent of data kept for assumed legal purposes does not need to be backed up. With better storage management policies, this type of redundancy can be reduced.
"Because many companies have poor information management practices, they are hanging on to a lot of data that should be dumped," Sean Riley, a principal at Deloitte Financial Advisory Services, told CIO Journal's Deloitte Insights blog. "Reviewing all these documents in discovery is taking much longer - and costing much more - than it should … You can't stop data growth, but you can manage it in ways that may make discovery easier and save your company money."
Consolidating storage in the cloud
According to Riley, one of the most important steps to reducing the cost of e-discovery is introducing more collaboration between IT and legal departments. Since they do not bear the cost of e-discovery, CIOs may not realize how their processes are complicating the legal team's work. Through collaboration, the two departments can better identify what data should be retained and what the storage needs for specific types of information are, allowing IT to develop a tiered storage model.
One of the best tools IT departments have at their disposal for helping to simplify e-discovery is cloud storage. By consolidating endpoint data and documents stored on third-party cloud services into a single managed protected hosting system, organizations can bring information into a central system and improve access.
At the same time, a managed hosting solution allows companies to avoid the capital outlay of running their own data center to store documents and handle compliance, IT consultant Joel Jacob told The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel. However, he cautioned that moving to a cloud storage model could create compliance problems related to the physical location of data, and he advised companies to work closely with their managed hosting providers to develop a secure and compliant solution.
"Clients should choose a cloud provider with a grade or level of storage technology that will allow them to meet their e-discovery and production obligations," he explained. "The provider must be able to deliver data in a format that adheres to the discovery process. Likewise, if you can't get your data out easily, you will find yourself paying an army of people to extract the information at a high cost."
Improperly managed, e-discovery can be a major challenge. However, companies that adopt the right managed hosting solutions can realize substantial savings and improved compliance standing.
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