E-discovery tools provide powerful search capabilities that can quickly process and index billions of files based on keywords and other common metadata. The tools can also present search results in forms that are easy to understand and often deliver results in a form that is compatible with litigation management tools.
Like any search tool, you'll want to test the product in your own environment before purchasing it. Discovery tools are useless if they can't locate your data and deliver it for litigation. Once you've reviewed the issues involved in purchasing compliance products, you can review the criteria specific to e-discovery tool purchases. After that, you'll find a series of product specifications that will help you compare products from vendors such as FAST, Kazeon Systems Inc., Index Engines Inc. and StoredIQ Inc.
Evaluate the search scope and supported file types. Discovery tools can process a wide variety of file types stored on a range of storage hardware across the enterprise. Before purchasing a discovery tool, verify that the tool will work with file types that are most relevant to your organization, such as Word documents, Outlook .pst files, database files, images and .pdfs. Also, ensure that the tool can search storage systems, servers, desktops/workstations, and even corporate laptops or remote sites to locate files of interest.
Consider search performance. As corporate information proliferates into the fringes of the organization (e.g. laptop or remote users), discovery tools must be able to respond to discovery requests in ever-shorter timeframes. Since failing to meet discovery requests can result in fines or judgments, performance can also have an important financial impact for your company. Note the time required to perform each request. Some tools can process terabytes of storage per day.
Evaluate any e-discovery storage requirements. The results of your searches need to be stored somewhere. Search results and indexes take 4% to 10% of your total file storage utilization. Smaller organizations or businesses operating with little extra storage capacity may get blindsided by unforeseen storage needs.
Consider logging and reporting features. Discovery tools should include logging and reporting features that identify the individuals making requests, criteria used for each search and the results obtained from each search. The tool should also track the disposition of any results, noting any files that are moved, held or copied, establishing a chain of custody that can demonstrate appropriate compliance with discovery requests and verify the authenticity of documents or other files.
Consider integration with litigation tools. Discovery tools should interface with standard litigation tools, such as ProLaw from Thomson Elite, AXS-One Case Management or LexisNexis. This allows counsel to organize and process the results. In many cases, discovery tools will export to some common text, image or other file formats.
Evaluate any network overhead. Pay attention to the discovery tool's deployment. Discovery products that rely on agents or other software deployed across the infrastructure can cause interoperability and maintenance issues. Agents and network crawlers can add unwanted network traffic overhead, placing additional load on the network and possibly slowing performance-sensitive applications. Discovery tools that avoid the use of agents and network crawlers are preferable.
Consider support for offline tape indexing. Organizations that rely on long-term archival tape storage should consider a discovery tool that includes offline tape indexing features. This type of function is available in appliances like those from Index Engines Inc., allowing archive tape contents to be processed into indexes with metadata. Without this type of feature, tapes would need to be restored first and then searched, but this feature can read and index tapes without needing to actually restore the content.
This chapter includes specifications for the following e-discovery products:
This was first published in January 2008