Get ready for it folks – there is another “term” battle brewing in the eDiscovery market. Like the debate over technology-assisted review (TAR), computer-assisted review (CAR), and predictive coding (PC), there is a similar one between defensible disposition, defensible deletion, and active expiration. Hopefully, the terminology debate will take a back seat to the real story, which is that companies can reduce costs and decrease risks by proactively getting rid of unnecessary information.
The subject first came up within eDJ’s consulting group. A client is beginning to actively expire information from managed repositories to save storage costs and reduce the risk of having too much information to sort through when eDiscovery arises. It was this client, in fact, who first brought up the term “active expiration.” For this particular client, active expiration had a better feel to it than defensible deletion. It is more the psychology of it: expiration is letting go of data that has outlived its value; deletion has a less warm and fuzzy feel – it’s more like burning through the forest. It is a sample size of one, so I would not claim that active expiration is the go-forward term for everyone, but it is a good example of how the human element plays into the process of information governance. Personally, I don’t care what anyone calls the process of disposing of unnecessary information as long as they actively do it.
Not long after this client interaction, I had a briefing with Index Engines, a company that is telling a defensible deletion story these days. Index Engines has launched a compliance/preservation archive that customers can use for legal hold and preservation. As part of the process, the Index Engines tool can help customers prioritize what has value and then only archive that content while getting rid of the rest. (NOTE: The Index Engines archive is not meant to be like traditional archives that stub content, remove it from the production server, and allow end user access; rather, it is a copy of data that can be used for legal holds while customers can manually delete anything from production servers).
Just last month, Nuix held an information governance event that featured a case study on defensible deletion – a case study with detailed results on how the business benefited (from both a cost and risk perspective) from proactively deleting information (in this case, going through 330 TB of archived email in Centera storage to determine what to keep for migration and what to delete). It is clear that companies can benefit from disposing of unnecessary information. And, our data shows that most people believe that a significant amount of data is either redundant or not valuable.
With the Nuix and Index Engines use cases, defensible deletion happens more typically on repositories like file systems, email servers and archives, or backup tape. It might be in the context of a migration (e.g. from one email archive to a newer version), or it might be in the context of cleaning up a messy data source like a file system.
eDJ would like to talk with anyone doing defensible deletion of other active systems like SharePoint or Exchange/Notes or archives – not in the context of migration, but in day-to-day activity. We haven’t seen a ton of these use-cases pop up in real world scenarios. IBM offers a number of its defensible disposal case studies, and we would be interested in hearing from you if you are doing it (either successfully or with major challenges). Comment on this article here or email me and we can discuss the topic further.