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The eDiscovery Paradigm Shift

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Friday, October 2, 2009

Green SaaS is for Real - Green eDiscovery is Next !!

I was contacted by Chirs Thorman today about a study that he conducted to determine whether or not SaaS(Software-as-a-Service) really saves any trees and has a smaller carbon footprint (and some of you thought that I didn't care) than traditional one-site alternatives (your own server and network). Well, as it turns out, Mr. Thorman concluded that SaaS is 93% greener than what he calls "on-premise software". Good job Chris. So now, all of you anti-SaaS ecologically challenged people will have to start buying carbon credits from us more ecologically conscience SaaS greenies.... Click Here to see Mr. Thurman's Blog Post.

And, applying Mr. Thorman's basic theories to the "tree hating / paper wasting" litigation services / eDiscovery industry will create carbon footprint saving multiples vs. current SOPs that will turn some green heads. Litigaion services and eDiscovery coupled with SaaS may present one of the biggest opportunies within the Global 2000 to create a small carbon footpoint.

It's time for eDiscovery to go green!!

The full text of Mr. Thorman's blog post and study is as follows:

In case you haven’t heard (or aren’t obsessively following IT trends like we are), the great trend in software is the evolution from traditional “on-premises” software (e.g. client/server software installed at the office) to Software as a Service (SaaS) (i.e. web-based applications that are managed in the vendors’ data center and accessed “on-demand” through a web browser).

Given what’s at stake for software companies in either camp, debating the merits of each model has led to some fiery discourse. We thought we’d fan the flames by introducing another angle: which model is “greener;” that is, better for the environment.

Understanding the Models

On-premise software is what most people think of when they think of a software system. You pop in a CD or download a big file from the Internet and the install begins. Files are copied to your computer and/or a server machine, where they are stored and run. Because the client and server software components are both doing a lot of computations, a fair amount of power is required.

With SaaS, there is no local installation of software because the vendor manages all the code and the data in their data center. Users access the system through a web browser and its primary role is to present the user interface – not a very computationally intensive function.

On-Premise Energy Consumption

Now let’s dig into the power consumption of the on-premise model. We’ll use the example of a typical physician practice, since electronic medical records (EMR) software is a market we know well. The “On Premises” side of the graphic below illustrates a four-physician medical practice, running EMR software on their own in-house server.

The HP ProLiant DL server, one of the most commercially popular servers on the market today, will consume 7,008 KW of server energy per year. That’s running 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

In addition, each user is using a Dell desktop 546, Dell’s most popular starter desktop. A single 546 Dell desktop will consume 600 KW of energy a year, running 8 hours a day for 250 days a year (an average work year).

A four-physician practice will consume 9,408 KW of power each year just to run EMR software on-premise. Each user will personally consume 2,352 KW of power each year.

SaaS Energy Consumption

Now let’s see how the energy consumption of SaaS software stacks up. Rackspace, one of the largest providers of cloud computing hosting services, lists the Dell PowerEdge 2950 III as one of it’s most popular server choices. And since a data center would have a redundant server in addition to the PowerEdge, our SaaS applications are powered by two of these servers.

Running 24 hours a day for 365 days a year, the total energy consumption for these two Dell servers running SaaS applications would be approximately 6,570 KW/yr each, or 13,140 KW/yr total.

However, in a modern SaaS data center there are economies of scale that enable the software vendor to run many customers on the same server (or small number of servers). The first way they might do this is to develop a “multi-tenant” architecture. That is, much like many people can share the same apartment building, SaaS customers can share the same software application and server. Extending the analogy, each SaaS user has their own passwords and permissions just like each tenant in an apartment building has their own set of keys.

Running this server in a SaaS data center allows the SaaS EMR vendor to tens or hundreds of customers on one server. When a new customer goes line with the application, the incremental computing requires – an power consumption – increase only marginally.

How does this affect energy consumption by our physicians?

Now our physicians are only using 131.4 KW (1/100th) of the Dell PowerEdge server energy each year because of the multi-tenant architecture. Also, because SaaS applications require less computing power on the client, the physicians are able to switch to more efficient Dell netbooks, which only consume 120 KW of power each per year.

Using SaaS, our four physician practice now only consumes 611.4 KW per year running their EMR software. That’s 152.85 KW per year, per physician.

That’s an 93% reduction in overall energy consumption for a four physician practice using SaaS EMR software over on-premise software!

Beyond Power Consumption

Power consumption isn’t the only area where we found that SaaS is greener than on-premises. Here are a few more considerations.

Remote IT support. Whether or not your IT support is in-house, they’re going to consume energy traveling to and from an office to perform maintenance and fix problems. Since there really isn’t much of anything to maintain at the office, SaaS vendors are able to provide remote IT support, reducing travel and CO2 emissions.

Less frequent replacement of PCs. Given that SaaS applications just require a web browser on the client machine, you really don’t need a very powerful PC. SaaS customers can keep their old machines in place or get a longer life from any new machines they buy. This compares to on-premises software, where customer will often upgrade hardware to support the computing resource requirements of new client software.

Telecommuting. Accessing on-premise software remotely is typically slower and more technologically complex than a SaaS application. With SaaS applications accessible from any computer with an Internet connection, employees can work remotely, saving fuel and energy costs in the process.

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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Top 10 CIO Priorities for 2010 Through the GRC/eDiscovery Prisim

As eDiscovery moves into the IT deparments of the Global 2000 as a subset of GRC (Governance, Risk and Compliance), I plan to start talking more and more about the eDiscovery paradigm shift in the context of the IT department. As such, this morning I ran across the results of the The Society for Information Management (SIM) surveyed CIOs and IT executive leaders about their top priorities for 2010, based on a list of 20 IT and business concerns. A great summary of the results of this survey can be found on the Network World website in a Septebmer 25, 2009 article by Denise Dubie titled, "CIOs seek better results, lower costs".

When looked at through the prisim of eDiscovey, The Top ten trends for CIO's reveals some interesting results:

1. Business productivity and cost reduction (investing in GRC/eDiscovery technology and best practices to enable more proactive as opposed to reactive ESI management represents the potential for tremendous reductions in the overall cost of ESI management).
2. IT and business alignment (Aligning/prioritizing the requirements of GRC/eDiscovery within IT will pay big dividends for the business)
3. Business agility and speed to market (brining eDiscovery in-house will pay big dividends and offer expanded business agility in dealinig with litigation)
4. Business process reengineering (Lean Six Sigma practices will play a big role in the development of GRC/eDiscovery best practices).
5. IT cost reduction (Apporpriately addressing the requirements of eDiscovery may represent the biggest opportunity to reduce costs).
6. IT reliability and efficiency (Emerging GRC/eDiscovery technology will lead to better overall ESI mangement and increase IT reliability and efficiency).
7. IT strategic planning (GRC/eDiscovery should be on the top of every strategic planning list).
8. Revenue-generating IT innovations (GRC/eDiscovery innovation will address provide opportunities to fulfill this trend).
9. Security and privacy concerns (The very nature of GRC/eDiscovery will enable IT departments to address the security and ESI privacy concerns immediately).
10. CIO leadership (GRC/eDiscovery issues should enable CIO's to take a seat at the board level).

The full text of the article by Ms. Dubie is as follows:

More than half of nearly 250 CIOs, CTOs and IT executives surveyed by the Society for Information Management (SIM) said their top business concern in 2009 is business productivity and cost reduction. About one-third of respondents noted IT and business alignment as a concern, followed by close to one-fourth who indicated they were concerned with business agility and speed to market. Nearly 20% of those surveyed by SIM said business process re-engineering topped their list and 17% listed IT cost reduction, which ranked fifth among IT management concerns in SIM’s 2009 IT Industry Trend Survey.

“The results of the study confirm that the economic downturn has caused a significant shift in priorities,” said Jerry Luftman, a former SIM vice president and executive director of Graduate Information Systems Programs and distinguished professor at Stevens Institute of Technology, in a statement. “IT executives are focusing on ensuring that business is conducted efficiently to get more mileage out of their budgets.”

And while cost-cutting remains a priority, SIM’s findings show that IT compensation might not continue to be impacted. Some 80% of respondents said staff salaries stayed the same or increased in 2009, and 91% expect pay to remain flat or increase in 2010. As for budgets, 52% experienced budget decreases in 2009, but looking ahead to 2010, 27% expects IT funds to increase and 45% expect finances the stay the same

Among the technologies and IT project areas that respondents indicated to SIM were a priority in the coming months are business intelligence, server virtualization, ERP systems, customer corporate portals, enterprise application integration and continuity planning/disaster recovery.
Separately, the Computer Technology Industry Association, or CompTIA, polled some 200 U.S.-based IT organizations and learned that overall the confidence in business is growing. The survey revealed that nearly half of companies polled expect to increase investment in research and development and other revenue generating initiatives. It also found that nearly one-third plan to increase spending on technology. And more than half of those surveyed expect to keep staff levels the same, while nearly 30% expect to increase hiring in the next six months.

Looking ahead “67% of firms rate the outlook for the IT industry positively, compared to 55% today,” the report states.

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