Tape restoration firm accelerates restores

National Data Conversion uses Index Engines technology to speed up tape restores for litigation.

National Data Conversion (NDC), based in New York City, has found a way to rapidly increase the speed at which it can restore data from tapes, an especially useful service if you are slapped with a lawsuit that involves immediate electronic discovery (e-discovery).

NDC has been around for about 20 years and offers services, including tape restoration, legacy data migration, such as loading old email into a new repository, and various compliance and risk management services.

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Tape restoration "has been a bit of an archeological exercise in the past," said Chris Clark, chief operating officer at NDC. "When you don't know what you are looking for or where to look, there is a lot of wasted action."

A recent report by Forrester Research said the e-discovery technology market was worth close to $1.5 billion in 2006 and will grow to almost $4.9 billion by 2011. The largest direct cost is the collection, processing and review of data, which on average runs about $1,800 per gigabyte, the report said.

Until recently, a company would give NDC half a dozen boxes of tapes and NDC would start restoring them. "If the information isn't there, they'd give us another 30 tapes from another period … it's like drilling oil wells," Clark said. That is, until the company discovered a product by Index Engines Inc. that is capable of retrieving content directly from backup tapes without the need to first restore the data back to disk. "Before this, we had to restore the whole tape, which was a painful and inefficient process," Clark said.

With the Index Engines product wrapped inside its tape indexing service, NDC can selectively restore what the customer needs, speeding up the time to respond to litigation requests, it claims. NDC will ultimately do less restoration business, but will be looking at more information as Index Engines increases its capacity to take on more projects simultaneously.

Clark noted that it will take some time to ramp up the service. "It changes the workflow for our customers, as now they can look at everything first before we restore it," he said. Clark is also sensitive to potential scaling issues. "Normally, we'd set up four tape drives to a box, but we'd like to connect 20 tape drives … for the customer that needs 500 tapes restored by 2 p.m. tomorrow."

There are still kinks to be worked out, but Clark is optimistic that tucking the Index Engines tape indexing technology into a service is the best way to sell the product. "In the litigation world, law firms are tough. They are not big technology buyers, and many want a service," he said.

Pricing is still to be finalized but will be on a per tape basis and will include a time period for which the indexed results are hosted by NDC for their customers to look through.

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