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Autonomy locks down data with Desktop Legal Hold

A new compliance product from Autonomy Corp. helps companies retain data relevant to legal hold policies. The product deals with data stored on computers disconnected from the corporate server, such as remote desktops and laptops.

Autonomy Corp. is targeting information stored on remote computers that may be relevant in litigation with Desktop Legal Hold, its first new product since it acquired email archiving vendor Zantaz Inc. last July.

Desktop Legal Hold combines Autonomy's IDOL (Intelligent Data Operating Layer) classification, search and retrieval engine with Zantaz's records management and email archiving capabilities. Desktop Legal Hold performs Boolean searches to identify information relevant to legal hold policies.

Legal (or litigation) hold is a procedure that a company imposes when it prepares for litigation. A legal hold requires the company to retain data that might be relevant to litigation so it can make the information available, if required.

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While Autonomy has updated versions of Zantaz products in recent months, Desktop Legal Hold is the first extension of the Zantaz platform since the $375 million acquisition.

Desktop Legal Hold allows companies to lock down electronic documents and files that reside on remote laptops and desktops, but not on corporate network repositories.

Laptops not covered by legal hold solutions

"There was a gap in legal hold solutions," said Nicole Egan, Autonomy chief marketing officer. "We weren't covering desktops and laptops. We were searching email archives and centralized servers, yet a tremendous amount of legal discovery information exists on desktops and laptops. But they're often disconnected from the corporate server. That's especially true of laptops."

Autonomy isn't the first compliance platform to address legal hold. Other records management and archiving systems include legal hold features, not surprising considering that a recent survey of 253 U.S. corporations by law firm Fulbright and Jaworski found that 89% of those companies have legal hold policies in place.

According to Egan, competing products require remote user intervention or functions, such as imaging hard drives or running desktop spiders that take up valuable IT manpower and travel time, and that also could violate user privacy laws.

When a desktop hold is instituted, the new Autonomy application will search desktops and laptops, and index and lock down relevant information whether or not the computer is connected to the corporate network. Desktop Legal Hold works with all Autonomy/Zantaz records management and archiving products.

The explosion of email and other electronic documents, as well as the year-old Federal Rules for Civil Procedure (FRCP), have prompted many companies to institute legal hold policies. Failure to do so could result in hefty fines and other penalties.

"This is relatively new, " said Tom Allman, former general counsel of BASF Corp. and a proponent of the 2006 changes to the FRCP. "In the '80s, litigation hold was not something we heard of or even knew about. It came about because of email."

Allman said Autonomy is promoting best practices and corporate conformity by helping companies gather information from as many sources as possible. Besides searching email, Desktop Legal Hold works with instant messages, voice mail and any messages supported by unified communications platforms.

"They're reacting to the need to have the ability to collect from a whole variety of storage sources," Allman said. "You want to be able to search and collect information from all relevant sources, not just the ones you pick and choose. Laptops are often the sole repository of legal information for employees."

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