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E-Discovery in the Cloud

As business documentation has gradually moved from being stored in hard-copy, paper formats to a purely electronic form, the process of legal discovery has evolved into electronic discovery, or e-discovery.


In this post we’ll introduce some of the basics of e-discovery, how the cloud is changing the way that it works. You’ll also find a link to a great resource that covers all of the challenges of e-discovery in the cloud and how NetApp’s Cloud Volumes ONTAP can help you manage them in the cloud.

What is E-Discovery?

More and more business documentation is now electronically-stored information (ESI). As such, discovery—the exchange of information by parties in a legal case with the intent of using the information as evidence—has become e-discovery. ESI in e-discovery can include many types of documents, such as email, electronic documents, social media posts, instant messaging, smartphone application data, and proprietary company databases.


The e-discovery process is highly IT-centric, with large volumes of structured and unstructured information having to be identified, preserved, and collected so that it can be transferred in a compliant manner to the other party for processing, review, and analysis. E-discovery clearly requires significant store resources. E-discovery also requires significant compute resources when advanced data review and analytics technologies are applied to automatically extract legal insights from the ESI corpus.


A new market has emerged to provide e-discovery tools and e-discovery platforms as well as managed e-discovery cloud services for law firms and other e-discovery stakeholders. The global e-discovery market was valued at just under $11 billion in 2018, and is expected to grow to $17 billion over the next five years. Although today the prevailing e-discovery solution deployment model is still on-premises, e-discovery is migrating to the cloud. In the next section we’ll look at the opportunities and challenges involved in the adoption of cloud computing for e-discovery.

E-Discovery in the Cloud

E-discovery poses significant challenges for IT for law firms and for any organization that must govern its ESI to comply with e-discovery law requirements and other regulatory purposes. Those IT challenges include:

  • The need to collect, store, and manage large quantities of diverse data, along with its metadata and history.
  • As much as 40% of enterprise data is created and stored outside of the enterprise network, such as on mobile devices and in cloud applications. Because of that, such data may not be captured by legacy e-discovery tools or processes.
  • The ESI corpus may lie dormant for long periods but must be easily, quickly and reliably restored when needed. In addition, compute resources must be made available to process, review and analyze the ESI.
  • IT teams both in the law firms and in the organizations required to maintain ESI often do not understand the special infrastructure and network needs of e-discovery.

E-discovery in the cloud, whether IaaS or as part of a hosted service, addresses many of these IT challenges. Cloud-based workflow management platforms today can help automate and orchestrate e-discovery, and support more robust, less error-prone e-discovery compliance. In addition, the organization benefits from reduced data storage costs in general, and for archived data in particular. Last but not least, ESI that is stored in the cloud is easier to make available when it is needed outside the organization for e-discovery purposes.


For law firms, e-discovery in the cloud streamlines their review and analysis workflows, while e-discovery data residing in the cloud can be available and easily accessed from any location and from any device.


For both the organizations and the law firms involved in cases, e-discovery in the cloud frees up their IT teams from having to deal with specialized e-discovery infrastructure and network needs. In addition, e-discovery stakeholders can reduce their data center footprints and CAPEX costs while benefiting from the cloud’s on-demand elasticity and scalability.

E-Discovery Cloud Migration Challenges

Despite the many advantages of e-discovery in the cloud, it is not without its challenges. Initially, the security of ESI data in the cloud was considered a barrier. However, the cloud service providers as well as managed service providers are continuously and heavily investing in their security and compliance profiles; today sensitive data from many highly regulated sectors, including healthcare and finance, are routinely held in the cloud.


To read more about those challenges and to find out how the cloud is making e-discovery work in a completely different way, download our new guide on e-discovery in the cloud.


The eBook will also discuss how e-discovery process can be enhanced and protected with the help of Cloud Volumes ONTAP. Cloud Volumes ONTAP is NetApp’s data storage management platform that runs as an instance on AWS or Azure. It enhances and optimizes the cloud provider’s native data storage services by adding a layer of data protection features as well as data storage efficiencies. Cloud Volumes ONTAP also supports all the cloud file-share protocols (NFS v3/4, SMB v2/3, iSCSI, NDMP).

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