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Waste millions of dollars or start archiving

Waste millions of dollars or start archiving

Waste millions of dollars or start archiving

The days are shorter and there's a chill in the air. What better time to curl up with a good book? Recently, "The Third Annual Litigation Trends Survey Findings" found its way onto my somewhat eclectic reading list. Those of you who prefer to see the movie may have a long wait, but this annual report from the international law firm of Fulbright & Jaworski offers some eye-opening facts for all of you who haven't implemented an archiving application yet.

The report is based on a survey of 422 companies, including 311 in the U.S., that span a cross-section of all major verticals. It offers some impressive--and disturbing--details, such as that 23% of the companies surveyed report being involved with 50 or more lawsuits, which is more than twice the number from a year ago. On the flip side, in 2005, 25% of respondents said they didn't have to deal with any lawsuits, while this year that number dwindled to 11%. An even more staggering statistic is that 40% of companies said they were on the receiving end of at least one suit involving $20 million or more.

Fulbright & Jaworski's report says that on average, U.S. companies in the survey spent $16.8 million on legal beagles and related expenses. E-discovery is a key cost component. But many companies still aren't prepared to tackle e-discovery in-house, and many others don't even have corporate-wide policies governing data retention.

If your company gets involved in a lawsuit, you're likely to run into the term "litigation hold." While it might sound like an embrace from an attorney, it's not quite that warm and fuzzy. In very simple terms, it means you have preserved all of the documents and files the courts are likely to require, and you'd better be able to find them fast, too.

Of course, all of this leads back to storage and, more specifically, archiving. Although archivers are still relatively new products, they've been around for some time now and a fair number of companies have wasted little time implementing them. But according to our own Storage Purchasing Intentions Survey, approximately 40% of you haven't implemented any form of archiving yet (see "What storage managers are buying and why," Storage, October 2006). And the picture isn't likely to get any prettier next year: Fewer than 50% of our respondents noted any plans to buy archiving products by the end of the year.

Compounding the issue is that more than 52% of you said you rely on tape to meet data-retention requirements. That reminds me of one user who had to restore a year's worth of Exchange data to 12 servers to locate some court-requested messages. It took weeks, cost a bundle and had the user shopping for an archiving app so that he'd never have to go through that mess again.

Archiving is no longer a luxury item reserved for financial services and big enterprise data shops. The excuse I hear most often is that archivers are too expensive, or storage managers don't want another app to administer or maintain. But consider the alternatives ...

The math is easy: Just balance the cost of implementing archiving against that of losing a lawsuit because you couldn't turn up a piece of evidence in a timely manner. "We only have a few hundred mailboxes" doesn't hold up as an excuse.

At the very least, you should be road-testing archiving products. And if you're currently archiving one app, take a look at your other critical apps and see if you should archive them, too.

You're not a lawyer, you're a storage professional, and the last thing you need is a law degree to run a storage shop. But by thinking ahead and saving your company's data in a recoverable, searchable format, you might just end up being a corporate hero, too.

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