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Virtualization is the Key to Future eDiscovery Software

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Virtualization is the Key to Future eDiscovery Software

Historically, eDiscovery software has run on a physical computer. However, this architecture has a significant number of operational and financial flaws that make it an unattractive option as the world of information management and therefore the eDiscovery industry moves forward and into the arena of Cloud Computing.

First of all, even though the cost of computing power (i.e. processors, memory, etc.) has dropped dramatically over the past several years and will continue to drop, with the option to run software in a virtual computing environment, it no longer makes any sense to "bind" software to single physical computer. The model is not flexible and doesn't leverage operational investments in data center infrastructure, rack space, power, cooling, cabling, maintenance and support.

Further, software running on a single physical computer is very inefficient as it rarely utilizes the power of that computer.  And, when a physical computer is maximized, a new physical computer has to be provisioned (i.e. setup, configured, software loaded, tested, etc.) which takes time and therefore costs money.

Virtual computing environments, on the other hand, enable multiple virtual machines to run on the same physical machines thereby maximizing the utilization of the available computing power. Theoretically, users should be able to provision new virtual machines (within a physical machine) to meet specific computing demands without having to necessarily provision a new physical machine.  Taking this virtual machine concept to a data center or in come cases a multi-data center concept, Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) such as Amazon (AWS) and Rackspace utilize the latest technology to enable the seamless provisioning of additional virtual computing environments within a single physical machine and  across as many physical machines as is necessary to complete a task.  Further, most CSPs now enable users to also provision the appropriate amount of memory and storage as may be required for a specific task and for a specific amount of time. As an example, if Early Case Assessment  (ECA) software ran in a virtual environment, users could provision a large number of both virtual and physical machines (with the appropriate memory and storage) to tackle the high processing requirements during ingestion, indexing and initial processing and then reduce the number of machines (virtual and physical) once the data was normalized and moved to a less computer intensive task such as document review.

The added benefit to the virtual eDiscovery software approach is that the vendor have the flexibility to only charge users for the computing power, memory and storage that they use as opposed to the current model that basically charges users to subsidize idle computing resources.

I would imagine that this all sounds very attractive to end users.   And, I am sure that once these users completely understand the operational and financial value of virtual eDiscovery software, they won't be interested in an eDiscovery platform that doesn't run in a virtual environment.  Adding more incentive for users to be interested in exploring virtual eDiscovery software solutions, eDiscovery software that is not virtual will not be very adept at running in the new cloud computing environment where virtual machines are the norm if not the requirement.

Unfortunately, there are only a few eDiscovery software platforms that have been designed to run in a virtual environment.  And, although there are both hardware and software solutions available that will enable a legacy software solution (not designed for a virtual environment) to run in a virtual environment, they are somewhat clumsy and add additional expense and unnecessary layers of processing.

So, in the next several weeks, as a lead in to the release of the eDSG/DCIG 2012 Early Case Assessment Interactive Buyer's Guide, I will be publishing several articles on which eDiscovery software vendors have eDiscovery software that was designed to run in a virtual environment.

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At April 13, 2012 at 6:15 AM , Blogger doeLegal said...

doeLEGAL has this type software and we would be interested in being included in your article. With 41 years serving legal professionals, we have the expertise and knowledge to deliver on our promises. Our doeK2™ package offers a comprehensive EDRM process from ECA through to Production under one roof. You can check it out at and we invite you and your readers to our free webinar on building a successful litigation spend architecture that covers much of the cloud-based eDiscovery process at


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