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Cloud Computing Will Emerge as a Viable Option for eDiscovery in 2009

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Cloud Computing Will Emerge as a Viable Option for eDiscovery in 2009

As a follow-up to my September 23, 2008 article titled, "Cloud Computing is Coming to eDiscovery," it appears that Cloud Computing is beginning to gain favor with the eDiscovery crowd. 2009 will be a big year for Cloud Computing in general as analysts are predicting that that by 2011 the volume of Cloud Computing market opportunity would amount to $160bn, including $95bn in business and productivity apps (email, office, CRM, etc.) and $65bn in online advertising. Given this fact and based on what I am seeing and hearing in the eDiscovery market, I am now willing to predict that it will be one of the big litigation technology trends for 2009 in eDiscovery.

Melanie Rodier, commented in a January 23, 2009 article appearing in the Regulatory Compliance Section of the Wall Street and Technology website titled, "Cloud Computing Gives E-Discovery a Lift," that, "With the amount of infrastructure required to support e-discovery capabilities, firms are looking to cloud computing’s utility model as a way to rein in storage and retrieval costs while improving their regulatory response. I agree with Melanie and believe that our current economic crisis that is forcing Information Technology (IT) budget cuts along with the associated and quickly emerging regulatory and compliance requirements, will prompt enterprises, who may have previously been considering an "in-house" solution, to consider Cloud Computing based eDiscovery / eCompliance solutions much more aggressively in 2009.

In a January 25 2009 Blog posting titled "E-Discovery Cloud Computing Marketplace Outlook," Brad Jenkins states that, My prediction (and I am not alone) is that e-discovery cloud computing will make a significant impact on the EDD marketplace and how data is processed. I expect that software companies moving to a Web 2.0 platform and offering on-demand web-based solutions will gain significant market share over the next few years."

However, not everyone is on board. I continue to hear detractors claiming that Cloud Computing is nothing more than "baked over" ASP and will never amount to anything. Or that enterprises are never going to allow their data to reside outside the firewall. And others of pointed out that "the Internet pipe" still isn't big enough to move all the massive amounts of Electronically Stored Information (ESI) required for eDiscovery and eCompliance. And some, such as Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation and creator of the GNU operating system, have resorted to name calling and says cloud computing is "stupidity" that ultimately will result in vendor lock-in and escalating costs.

Well, many once thought that the world was flat and that turned out to not be true (unless you live in Kansas). So, I am going to stand by my prediction that Cloud Computing will be a big trend in eDiscovery in 2009.

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At January 26, 2009 at 1:36 PM , Blogger Art Smith said...

Charles, I guess I am counted among the detractors who believe cloud computing is nothing more than baked over ASP in this context. I frankly don't see this as any different than the hosted solutions that Kroll, Applied Discovery, EED and others have been offering for years.

The solution that will be chosen by those in the market for E-Discovery support will be dictated by the anticipated volume of data, the law firm's in house capability and the client's budget for e-discovery.

Whether they will head for the Clouds will be a case by case decision in my view.

At January 26, 2009 at 1:57 PM , Blogger Charles Skamser said...

Having started and run one of the bigger ASP's during the .com go go days, I understand how easy it is to confuse that technology with the SaaS based Cloud Computing technologies of today. And, under the old ASP model, Kroll, ADI, EDD and several others are providing online access to their legacy client/server applications.

However, there is a big difference between this model and the SaaS/Cloud Computing model such as:
(1) these new applications were build with new technology to run specifically in this new environment; (2) they are very scalable and therefore very inexensive for their provider to maintain; (3) point # 2 allows these vendors to be able to offer these new products under a pricing model that in many cases is less than what it costs the older vendors to run their application; (4) These new applications make very heavy use of all of the new browser based technology and therefore are very easy to use, very secure, and can be accessed anywhere you have an Ineternet connection.

In regards to data volumes, these applications will actually be able to handle much larget amounts of data than the old client/server applications that database limitations and memory limitation on their servers.

In regards to the law firm's in-house capabilities, these new applications don't put any additional strains or requirements on the law firm's IT department and it allows smaller law firm without the budget or desire to have an IT department to have the same capabilities as a larger firm.

Finally, I believe that that client's budget considerations are actually going to drive this market as it will enablet the law firms, the service providers and in many cases the clients themselves to complete complex eDiscovery processing, analysis and review at a much lower cost then ever before.

At February 2, 2009 at 10:04 AM , Blogger John Fuex said...

This article and the accompanying links demonstrate clearly the confusion surrounding nebulous terms like cloud computing and Web 2.0. As noted, cloud computing is not a single technology, but a general term to describe the use of remote computing resources hosted on the Internet. It is technically accurate under this definition to apply the label to just about any web-enabled technology from g-mail to Yahoo. It is nonsensical to make statements like "Cloud computing is nothing more than 'baked-over' ASP" given that ASP is a cloud technology that has of late been given the shiny new (and completely disconnected from the dot com bust) moniker SaaS.

I'd be interested to hear your perspectives on the impacts of the more discrete flavors of cloud computing as they apply to electronic discovery. SaaS/ASP are old news and may be getting a bit of unearned notoriety by virtue of being pioneers in shift towards cloud computing, but what is news are the newer Platform-as-a-service (Google/Microsoft) and Infrastructure as a Service (Amazon/GoGrid/VMWare) paradigms that are just begriming to exit the beta stage of the technology life-cycle. The promise here for E-Discovery is the ability to scale easily in both directions to accommodate the unpredictable and bursty volumes of discovery material that must be hosted and processed. Conversely, there are real issues with E-Discovery on the cloud using providers working under the utility computing model. For example, the notoriously short deadlines associated with litigation projects presents a significant hurdle for transferring massive discovery collections to the cloud. My early experience with some of the larger providers indicates that they are simply not set up to accept data into their cloud via any means other than Internet protocols. Even with a wide pipe, transferring hundreds of GB of data over the Internet has the significant potential to be a non-starter.


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