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Index Engines adds tape extraction capabilities

Classification startup Index Engines lets customers find files and messages needed for litigation compliance without restoring the entire contents of tape library.

Index Engines Inc. is rolling out a data extraction feature that customers and analysts said makes it easier to find files on tape and comply with the year-old Federal Rules for Civil Procedures (FRCP).

One of the changes to the FRCP that went into effect last Dec. 1 mandates that corporations are able to produce relevant electronic documents in the case of litigation and should have that capability in place before receiving a request for specific information. That sent corporations scrambling to put such capabilities in place, especially for email records stored on tape, which is more difficult to search and retrieve information from than disk.

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Index Engines' extraction module is part of its Enterprise eDiscovery Platform. The extraction features lets customers find relevant data stored on tape without recovering the data first, saving a great deal of time and cost. For example, a person involved in litigation can search for mail from the chief financial officer to the CEO in a certain timeframe containing keywords, such as "option grants." An IT administrator can pull those individual files off tape and onto disk for safe keeping. Previously, corporations had to recover all data from tape before classifying it.

Index Engines has also added the ability to connect its appliance to tape libraries through Fibre Channel or SCSI instead of only working with individual tape drives, and a tape management utility that catalogs and indexes all tapes in a library.

Analysts and customers agree the extraction capability is the most valuable of the new features, even if it adds $25,000 to the eDiscovery platform's starting price of $50,000.

Enterprise Strategy Group analyst Brian Babineau said the ability to restore a file without having to fully restore the tape can have an immediate return on investment. He said litigators often look for email message or a single file as opposed to a mailbox or entire file system. Restoring a large data set to find that one file or message is time consuming. And time is money when paying lawyers.

"The automatic extraction module is game changing, especially in electronic discovery," he said. "With global organizations having millions of backup tapes with large amounts of data on them, there is a definitive need to be able to find one or two things without having to restore everything."

Onsite3, a company that provides litigation support for law firms and corporations, uses Index Engines appliances to search and retrieve data off clients' tapes. Jeffrey Fehrman, president of Onsite3's Electronic Evidence Labs, said a typical restore consists of about 500 to 1,000 backups. He said the appliances let him search data "as lot quicker and without as much equipment."

Onsite3 was a beta tester for Index Engines' extraction feature, and Fehrman said he looks forward to putting it into production. "Now we can index the tape, run a search and identify which tapes have responsive data," Fehrman said. "Eliminating the need to restore every backup tape is huge -- it reduces storage space and saves our clients money."

Another Index Engines customer, a Windows administrator at an international corporation, said the extraction capabilities can save his companies days of search and restore.

"We're scanning data at about 1 GB a minute. A 90-gig Exchange server took us 90 minutes to index," said the administrator who declined to name his company for legal purposes. "Before, it would probably take us three to four days to find something on an Exchange server. We'd have to find the hardware, find the software, restore Exchange, and then we'd have to retrieve it. Now I can go in and target exactly what I need from the information store without restoring the entire information store."

The admin said his company was involved with at least six lawsuits over the past year, and he has been called to depositions. He said the ability to find relevant information quickly is crucial in these situations. "I need to quickly cull through my documents fast to give my supporting counsel the necessary information to represent us," he said. "If only five messages are relevant, I can just target the five messages."

Jim McGann, vice president of marketing for Index Engines, said his company has found a lucrative business in helping companies find information -- particularly Exchange messages. "Litigation support has turned us into a profitable company," he said.

McGann said Index Engines has more than 30 customers, mostly either Fortune 100 firms or government agencies. He said the biggest issue for customers is the ability to find and produce information off tape. "The predominant thing we're seeing is getting information off tape, that's the most burdensome to extract," McGann said.

Index Engines still only supports Exchange email, but McGann said it will add support for Lotus Notes next year.

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