Migrated from eDJGroupInc.com. Author: Greg Buckles. Published: 2013-12-04 19:00:00Format, images and links may no longer function correctly. 

My regular readers know that I have spent a lot of time evaluating Microsoft’s initial discovery tools for SharePoint and Exchange.  With so many of our clients contemplating enterprise wide migrations of unstructured data to on-premise or Office 365 SharePoint, I have been scrambling to keep up with all of the eDiscovery offerings that have built connectors to support business requirements such as retention categorization, legal holds, investigations, collections and even review on in-place data. Up to this point, our knowledge of the new SharePoint eDiscovery Center has been based on our briefings, demonstrations and meetings with the Microsoft (MSFT) team and client POC environments.

eDJ uses Office 365 for our email and SharePoint sites, including our development cycles, tracking goals, requirements and bugs. Since we upgraded our SharePoint sites to the 2013 infrastructure, I decided to upload my validation test data sets and some known test data to a secured email mailbox and to a SharePoint document folder to run some initial hands on tests. The MSFT product management team had assured me that there were major upgrades to the 2013 FAST index that addressed many of the search issues that I found in my Exchange 2010 testing. I took an attitude of ‘believe it when I see it’ in those early briefings and was pleasantly surprised with my initial tests of known file types and search terms when compared to dtSearch, X1 and Symantec’s Enterprise Vault/Discovery Accelerator (if you would like more details about the testing and my findings, please send a note to Greg@eDJGroupInc.com).  That’s right, the 2013 FAST search may be good enough for selective preservation or collection.

There is no ‘perfect’ search with a large and diverse collection, but if you run enough terms and Boolean variations across multiple systems you can see where those systems agree or disagree. Since every company has a unique data profile, file types, business usage and discovery requirements,  you will have to run your own tests with your own data before you rely on ANY tool to comply with legal or regulatory requests.  This may prove to be an advantage to providers that have bet on building search connectors to the MSFT indexes rather than the more conservative collection-reindex approach of traditional tools. Acaveo,  Nuix and Exterro all have federated search connectors and I am sure that other SharePoint Collectors will happily let me know if they build their own index or hand search criteria to the FAST search engine.

Despite the progress in search functionality, the eDiscovery Center is still a first generation product built to support a fairly narrow range of usage cases. The MSFT team has made a big jump forward from the 2010 multi-mailbox search/hold functionality, but there is a lot of opportunity here for third party tools to bring mature, flexible workflow to meet the diverse market requirements. Many of the usability issues and documentation frustrations I experienced will undoubtedly be addressed in subsequent releases. For now, I recommend that clients carefully assess the potential impact in effort, risk and response speed to your discovery workflow before abandoning existing tools or provider services.

If you would like to get more information on my ongoing testing before I publish any reports or have a looming decision, shoot me an email. The eDJ Group is adapting to meet the market needs, but our clients will always be looking for solid information on hot topics like the eDiscovery Center, mobile devices and cloud repositories.

Greg Buckles can be reached at Greg@eDJGroupInc.com for offline comments or questions. His active research topics include mobile device discovery, the discovery impact of the cloud, Microsoft’s 2013 eDiscovery Center and multi-matter discovery. Recent consulting engagements include managing preservation during enterprise migrations, legacy tape eliminations, retention enablement and many more. 

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