Migrated from eDJGroupInc.com. Author: Greg Buckles. Published: 2010-04-07 04:00:45Format, images and links may no longer function correctly. In several recent posts, Barry and I have called out the challenges of collecting dynamic content from web based collaboration platforms, focusing on Sharepoint as the market leading platform. It is definitely on the minds of corporate legal departments and providers alike. Our articles prompted the team at Kiersted Systems to request a demo and briefing on their newest Sharepoint collection and review offering. Although we do not do classic product ‘reviews’ at eDiscoveryJournal, I do like to explore the implications of new methodologies and technologies. Sharepoint 2010 itself is new to the market and brings new capabilities to manage legal holds on records as well as more robust search and export features. The new ability to make a ‘preservation copy’ within Sharepoint is probably the highlight feature to take note of. They have wrapped a bit more workflow and specific action templates around holds, search, and export, but the basic item level functionality seems unchanged.

So how has the Kiersted team tackled Sharepoint for their clients? When faced with preservation of a structured data source, the traditional answer was to take a snapshot or backup so that you have a full copy of the system. This does not address any ongoing preservation requirements, but it does address the immediate risk of spoliation. As a service/SaaS provider, Kiersted created a process to restore the client Sharepoint at a site level. That virtual site is locked down and then pages with attachments are extracted as individual web page archive files (MTH files) for processing into their K4 Review Platform. Most of the other collection or processing systems grab the embedded files from the Sharepoint document library, but lose the context and metadata that is critical for both review and authentication as evidence.

Over the years, I have found that ‘good’ products are those that tackle problems in a manner that seems obvious and simple in retrospect. This site level preservation model makes sense as long as the relevance scope and corporate Sharepoint architecture result in discrete sites with a high proportion of potentially relevant ESI. It is not appropriate for selective collection scenarios where items are scattered across multiple sites throughout the corporate Sharepoint environment. Site level collection seems to be going backwards until you get to the review stage. The K4 Rapid Review platform uses this live virtual Sharepoint to enable reviewers to jump into the secured system to follow links and experience the embedded files in their actual context. That itself can justify the cost of a full site restoration with the right matter scenario. With more companies migrating early content management systems to Sharepoint, corporate legal needs systems that can handle the hybrid structured-unstructured nature of dynamic collaboration systems through the review and production process. Rendering this content down to flat fields and attachments to shoehorn it into a review application is tantamount to printing video to TIFF.

Before you jump onto the snapshot bandwagon, you need to look at some of the limitations of moving a Sharepoint site out of your corporate environment. Any custom external ODBC data sources (other database driven systems) that have been integrated into pages will result in broken links and may produce gibberish when moved. So the first thing to check is whether the target sites have any custom development into workflows, dynamic content and other integrated features. If the site is used simply as a collaborative wiki, document assembly area or record management interface, then it is a better candidate for a virtual preservation snapshot. Also of concern is whether object or page versioning has been enabled. Most systems do not handle these well when extracting content. If you have a sharp IT group that does custom development for your business groups, then I would recommend that you think twice before relying on a simple site backup to properly preserve your sites. A single dashboard page could reference a dozen external/internal data sources that would be lost on backup. It is nice to see a mature workflow and integrated review system tackle Sharepoint content. It means that legal is moving past the paper document model.

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