Cloud computing in e-discovery is one area that will make a dramatic impact in the overall costs of e-discovery. Cloud computing, which is basically outsourcing data storage and/or document management, has increased in popularity due to the low costs associated with implementation and ongoing use. In fact, many providers offer no upfront costs for the infrastructure, making it more appealing to corporations who are trying to trim their IT/networking/equipment budgets. Cloud providers are offering Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Platforms-as-a-Service (PaaS) at an increasing rate, requiring even more diligence in the area of e-discovery planning. It takes the expertise of an e-discovery company who can guide you along the way, so let’s go over a few things to watch out for when considering costs of e-discovery when cloud computing is involved.
Cloud computing is heralded as a significant cost saving measure for corporations, however, some cloud providers may not meet regulatory archiving standards in an environment that focuses first on security measures. Such archival becomes the responsibility of the corporation, in process, equipment and personnel, reducing the savings experienced in use of the cloud.
Retrieving Discoverable Data
Many cloud providers store different customers’ data on the same server, making it difficult for the provider to keep the non-affected customer’s data confidential when providing discoverable data for another client. Though able to accomplish this task when required, the cost of doing so may not be a part of the customer’s “normal” fees and is likely to become expensive depending upon the work necessary for the cloud provider and fees for any of the customer’s expert advisors.
Limited Technical Ability to Preserve Documents
Another factor that is likely to affect the cost of e-discovery in the cloud is that cloud vendors may have limited ability to preserve documents that could be relevant to litigation. Because some cloud vendors share servers among customers, the routine deletion of information that may become relevant in the future can occur as often as on a daily basis. If a discovery request includes a request for data logs or date/time stamps, such information may have been destroyed by the cloud provider, making it difficult, if not impossible, to retrieve. For this reason, savvy corporations are using e-discovery consultants, such as those at Advanced Discovery, to create effective processes to preserve data stored in the cloud more defensibly.
IT and Counsel Collaboration
In an effort to keep defensibility at a maximum, and the cost of e-discovery at a minimum, the corporation’s IT personnel must collaborate closely with counsel before implementing a cloud-based system. In the absence of IT personnel, consultants should be retained to ensure an efficient process is implemented from the beginning. Counsel, in conjunction with e-discovery consultants, can best advise on the various ways in which use of the cloud can impact discovery in future litigation. It is possible that negotiating contract terms with cloud vendors that consider and prepare for the likelihood of requests for e-discovery, will increase the cost of the program, however, considering the much larger cost overall in not preparing for such an eventuality, this is not likely to reduce the benefits of and savings in employing the cloud for most corporations.
Given the increasing use of cloud-based programs such as Amazon Cloud, Microsoft Cloud and now iCloud, from Apple, many experts feel that future movement will be toward pricing based upon value to the end user. If your corporation or law firm is considering use of the cloud to reduce costs, solicit the advice of an e-discovery expert in advance. The consultants at Advanced Discovery provide technology consulting services that help clients navigate the cloud more securely.