Enterprise Search: Microsoft, Google, Specialized Players Vie For Supremacy
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Autonomy, Guidance, Kazeon, and StoredIQ offer compliance search technology, with e-discovery and information management as the major drivers. In December 2006, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedures, which govern the processes and requirements of parties in federal civil suits, clarified the rules regarding electronically stored information. These rules have had a significant impact on the breadth of data that companies are expected to find and produce in litigation.
While case law around these updated rules is evolving, the upshot is clear: Courts won't accept "I can't find it" as an excuse for not producing information relevant to a lawsuit. In January 2008, Qualcomm was slapped with an $8.5 million penalty because it mishandled the e-discovery process and failed to produce e-mail relevant to a lawsuit with Broadcom. And without search in place, e-discovery costs can fast eclipse the amount that a company may stand to lose in a lawsuit. Even employing precise keyword searches,Verizon places the price of processing, reviewing, culling, and producing 1 GB of data at between $5,000 and $7,000, according to a study by the University of Denver's Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System. Multiply that by the size of your data stores, and the cost of a few new servers seems downright reasonable.
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Mike Brooks, CIO and senior VP of CVR Energy, a $3 billion-a-year refinery, uses Autonomy's Idol as part of his e-discovery program. Idol is a search and indexing technology that underpins all of Autonomy's software products. Brooks runs discovery searches using Idol, and then uses a homegrown software tool to move relevant information to a secure repository. "We are trying to make sure there's nothing in our enterprise we don't know about, to avoid surprises," Brooks says.
E-discovery phases can be mapped out using the Electronic Discovery Reference Model, an independent framework that has been adopted by the vendor and legal communities. The search products described here focus on the initial phases of the discovery process, including identification, collection, and preservation. In the identification phase, search products must seek out content relevant to a lawsuit; they connect to various repositories, crawl the content, and create a searchable index. Users--in this case IT, HR, and legal counsel--run queries and get back a list of matches. And like business search tools, these products offer capabilities that go beyond simple keyword and Boolean search, such as support for multiple languages, natural language processing, and pattern recognition to extract additional layers of meaning from the information being indexed.
The features needed for the collection and preservation phases separate discovery-focused search products from their business kin. For instance, to do collection effectively, these products must be able to move content from one repository to another while preserving metadata, such as time stamps, to demonstrate that information wasn't altered during the discovery period. StoredIQ addresses this by logging the original metadata and then adjusting the necessary fields when files are moved or copied to a new location. Autonomy, Guidance Software, and Kazeon say their products can move files without changing metadata at all.
Preservation requires relevant data to be maintained in an unaltered state. In the discovery process, employees involved in litigation, called custodians, are issued a preservation notice by legal counsel instructing them not to destroy or tamper with files, e-mail, and other information related to the case.
Laptops and desktops present problems for collection and preservation that don't exist with business search, and vendors have approached those challenges differently. Autonomy's Zantaz Introspect, Kazeon, and StoredIQ can access and search PCs over the network. They can collect information and enforce legal holds without the use of an agent.
Guidance requires a small piece of software, which it calls a servlet, to be installed on systems to be searched, though the company says the servlet doesn't install DLLs or interact with the host operating system. Autonomy also includes an agent with its Aungate Legal Hold software to lock down relevant information on laptops, PCs, and servers. StoredIQ says it plans to release an agent for laptops and desktops at the end of the year.