Up, Up, and Away: Why Efficient eDiscovery Providers are Migrating Platforms to the Cloud

By Stephen O’Malley, Robert Bird

July 27, 2017

Law firms and corporate buyers of eDiscovery services continue to drive the industry to deliver solutions that create efficiency, increase cost savings, and provide security to highly sensitive data. Several software companies are developing cloud technology that facilitates efficiency, scalable hosting capabilities, and powerful processing environments in a cost-effective and secure manner. When paired with knowledgeable people and proven processes, the successful implementation of cloud-based solutions produces savings and the convenience of faster and more secure hosting environments.

eDiscovery providers have historically maintained private data centers to host client data. As data volumes increased, so did the complexities involved in maintaining and growing these centers to meet the demands of clients. This produced a costly burden on data center owners, which was then passed on to users in the form of licensing and hosting fees. But there were other issues as well, including:

SECURITY

eDiscovery matters often involve an organization’s most sensitive data, including confidential communications from its leadership and general counsel. Private data centers have a range of security levels that, due to the increasing sophistication of state and nonstate hacking entities, put them at risk of infiltration by hostile actors. This was painfully demonstrated during the 2017 WannaCry ransomware attacks around the world, in which numerous hospitals with unpatched servers suffered glitches in medical equipment that affected their ability to provide critical care to patients.1

RELIABILITY

Provider data centers have downtime that often impedes the document review operations of their clients. Regularly scheduled maintenance windows, emergency software patching and updates, and disaster-related outages are unwelcome impediments to clients of eDiscovery providers that host data in their own data centers. These outages can have profound impacts on a client’s ability to meet court-mandated production timelines.

TECHNOLOGY AND SPEED

An eDiscovery provider’s budget for capital expenditures of data center environment upgrades is typically significantly smaller than that of a cloud storage provider. This results in data centers with outdated and slower equipment, along with an increased possibility of hardware failure and more downtime. Additionally, security failings and slower workflows may result from a lack of consistent upgrades to older equipment, ultimately costing the client more time than if the systems hosting their data were upgraded to more secure and regularly maintained cloud computing systems.

DATA PROTECTION AND PRIVACY CONCERNS

eDiscovery providers generally have data centers located in the same countries and regions where their law firms’ clients are located. However, most law firms that deal with multinational clients require portions of the eDiscovery process to take place in countries that have heavy restrictions on the ability to migrate data across that country’s border. To maintain compliance with regional data protection laws, many companies resort to creating makeshift, in-country document review centers using leased equipment that is drop-shipped for the matter at hand. Often, this equipment is less powerful and less secure than what is commonly available in the provider’s data center, which results in an inefficient review.

GLOBAL CONTEXT

Businesses lose an estimated $400 billion annually to cybercrime aided by slow and aging security infrastructures.2 In addition, hacking and infiltrations into legal and business entities is increasingly viewed as the best way for nations with interests inimical to the United States to engender the greatest amount of havoc. Combine security threats with the increased competition emerging from industrializing nations and the benefit of the elasticity and protection of cloud computing as a bargain (and not a cost) to clients becomes clear.

In comparison, the growing advantages of cloud storage for use in eDiscovery include:

SECURITY

Major cloud storage providers expend significant time and money to harden their environments against cyber penetrations. This results in a much safer user experience for clients, especially those dealing with highly sensitive business and legal data.

RELIABILITY

Cloud storage is generally more reliable than data centers, with a monthly uptime percentage of 99.5.3 Cloud storage lacks required downtime for maintenance windows because of the way in which the systems are architected. A steady and reliable operation of the systems employed by clients facilitates savings and adds stability to daily operations. This benefits clients by removing burdensome outages to the work flow and ensuring the availability of data under management. Cloud computing benefits clients by entering them into a shared pool of resources allowing them to build economies of scale and streamline the eDiscovery process.4

TECHNOLOGY AND SPEED

Cloud storage providers are constantly upgrading their hosting environments, resulting in state-of-the-art equipment that is less likely to fail. In addition, the cloud provides the ability to scale storage capacity and CPU/memory to handle large data and review volumes, as well as deliver the horsepower for machine learning and other advanced analytic capabilities.

DATA PROTECTION

The major cloud storage providers have a global network of storage options. Global access to regionally based cloud storage options allows clients to host protected data in the country of origin while maintaining the robust and powerful capabilities of their storage solutions, which negates the need to implement ad hoc review environments to meet case demands.

GLOBAL CONTEXT

The flexibility and security provided by cloud computing make it an attractive option for eDiscovery providers and their clients, especially in the international realm. Additionally, the reliable security that cloud computing provides gives clients the assurance that their sensitive information will be safe. Further, this security is necessary in the rapidly evolving world of cybersecurity, in which state and nonstate actors alike view the infiltration of corporations and law firms as an effective means to obtain large sums of money and attack Western institutions.

Cloud-based solutions provide law firms and corporations numerous advantages in tackling the unique challenges facing them in the 21st century. In today’s global market, increased efficiency and processing capabilities, along with the advantages that scalable hosting provides, are not just smart business practices but are necessary in a world facing cybersecurity threats. Cloud storage eliminates waste from aging cyber infrastructure, greatly bolsters cybersecurity, and provides law firms and corporations the flexibility to operate in a global setting. It may be confidently stated that cloud computing is the technological innovation best equipped to meet the unique challenges of the modern cyber world and is the recommended system for companies and firms striving for innovation and success.

Paul Wilson provided writing, research, and editing assistance on this article.