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Information Governance: HP eDiscovery OnDemand takes eDiscovery to the cloud

GeorgeTziahanas ‎02-04-2014 02:47 PM - edited ‎02-04-2014 03:15 PM

It’s ironic in some ways that the eDiscovery market has lagged behind true “cloud-based” models in delivering software.  Almost since its inception, the eDiscovery market has been providing software for the purpose of reviewing content in hosted environments.  In fact, it was about the only model that was available for a long-time; few law firms or enterprises were willing to bring the software and associated infrastructure in house to support analysis, review, and production. 


Putting the ‘e’ in discovery

Back in 1992, when Mike Sullivan and his team founded Steelpoint, they didn’t even refer to the use of technology to review and produce information for litigation as “eDiscovery.” At the time, it was only known by the actual legal term, “discovery.”  Eventually the legal system caught up with the information age and eDiscovery was born. Of course over the next two decades, Steelpoint (later acquired by Zantaz, then Autonomy and HP), like other providers, evolved their products and continued to deliver solutions in full-service hosted environments.  These environments delivered the technology, along with the professional services and project management associated with eDiscovery matters.


Over the last 5-7 years, software for eDiscovery (including legal hold, processing, early case assessment, review and production, etc.) has been sold more often directly to law firms, service providers, consultancies, and in some instances enterprises, including HP Autonomy.   Many times, this was delivered via an appliance, or occasionally as pure software, but in both instances the end result was the same: A third-party took responsibility to buy, install, run, manage, and maintain the technology to deliver what is usually a service and conduct the analysis, review, and production of information potentially relevant to regulatory inquiry or litigation.


Technology and service as one

Even today, eDiscovery software companies that hold themselves out as successful are often selling the software to third parties, so those third parties can provide a service to support discovery activities.  However, few of these third-parties would identify themselves as “infrastructure” or “IT/Security management” experts—nor should they. These are eDiscovery service providers and law firms that are really delivering a service on top of the technology.


A non-legal perspective on eDiscovery

Perhaps it is instructive to look completely outside the legal, compliance, eDiscovery world, and consider SalesForce or WorkDay.  Of course they build software necessary to meet the requirements of diverse sales teams, or complex HR/benefits requirements—but they are providing the underlying software to many companies and service providers via a true SaaS model.  SalesForce and Workday own and manage the software for others to use; they do not sell it to others to manage.


Companies like SalesForce and Workday operate on a consumption based-model. They don’t require service providers or clients to purchase software licenses or appliances, or commit the upfront and ongoing infrastructure costs and management.


The eDiscovery market, until now, has really only supported two models: a fully hosted model or a licensed (in some form) model.  What we are introducing is something different—a platform that allows service providers, law firms, and enterprises to access eDiscovery software on a pure consumption and SaaS model, in a secure, on-demand cloud environment



Another choice in eDiscovery

We view this as an additive model, not a replacement for the hosted or licensed model altogether.  In time, however, we do believe that true SaaS eDiscovery models will ultimately replace much of the licensed model.  Taking on the cost and complexity in infrastructure, security requirements, and global/jurisdictional requirements for managing eDiscovery software will only make sense for the largest firms, service providers, and enterprises, especially when you consider:

  • How many firms and service providers even undergo annual SOC2 or similar facility and operational audits? 
  • How many of these firms have regular penetration testing, and source-code scanning/vulnerability analyses conducted? 
  • How many are staffed with professional operations and security teams?

Delivering a true SaaS model in eDiscovery allows even the smallest firms and service providers to focus on managing the eDiscovery process, and giving them access to the latest technologies and analytics, without the associated burden of managing ever more complex, secure infrastructure.  What we have announced with HP eDiscovery OnDemand, brings this SaaS model to the eDiscovery market and identifies this model as one that we will be aggressively pursuing as a business and product strategy in the future.


One final note: we do not introduce this model lightly.  We do so from an experienced position, running some of the largest private cloud environments in the world for our compliance and archiving clients.  Managing and delivering your own software in a cloud environment means there is nobody else to blame if something goes wrong.  It also means significant capital investment, expertise managing cloud environments, regular audits of facilities and operational processes and personnel.  Those eDiscovery companies that have made a living selling these costs to third-parties will need to determine whether they are willing to take them on to deliver true SaaS offerings.  If choosing to do otherwise, they are taking a short-position against SaaS/cloud as a business strategy; where the market has generally shown a long-position is preferable.




Edited by Robin Hardy

About the Author


George Tziahanas leads product management and strategy for HP Autonomy’s Legal and Compliance Portfolio, including its Compliant Archiving, eDiscovery, Legal Hold, and Supervision/Surveillance solutions. George also works closely with HP Autonomy financial services clients, overseeing deployment and ongoing management of solutions designed to meet regulatory requirements.

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