Migrated from eDJGroupInc.com. Author: Greg Buckles. Published: 2010-09-23 07:49:06Format, images and links may no longer function correctly. While pontificating on industry trends at ILTA, I joked that Fedex was the ultimate beneficiary of corporations that take their eDiscovery to the Cloud. Scant weeks later, my good friend Pete Pepiton at Mimecast responded to my ad hoc remark with the headline, “Fedex’s Profit Doubles”.  We have had various Secure File Transfer Protocols for years, yet the practical bandwidth limitations of most internet transmissions have taught us not to try sending more than 5 GB of files via the web. In plain language terms, the web was just not designed for the kind of large file burst capacity transfers that typify an eDiscovery collection. There is a good discussion of these limits by Stacey Higginbotham here.  

So what is your real internet upload bandwidth? According to Stacey, the most common corporate connect is a T-1 line with 1.5 Mbps. So if you hog your entire company’s bandwidth, you will manage 15 GB per day. I have collected single custodians who had 50+ GB of just PST files, much less their forensic images. Even if your company has paid $300-500k for a blazing fast OC-48 line so that you can send at 1 TB per hour, you may still be limited by a backbone connection and will almost certainly be back to a crawl at the delivery connetion. Nextpoint is the only eDiscovery cloud provider that I have heard of so far using the global Amazon Web Services (AWS) backbone.

Even Amazon recognized the bandwidth issue last year and implemented a new AWS Import/Export service for shipping your data on a hard drive via the postal system. So even one of the largest, global cloud providers has acknowledged that the Cloud is designed for digital rain and that there is still a price to lift data back into the cloud. AWS’s guidelines for when you ship your data tell the story.

When Amazon thinks that you should ship

As an example the bandwidth challenge that most firms, solo practitioners and smaller eDiscovery providers face, I am currently transferring 2.5 GB of compressed Enron PSTs to a client site for a testing engagement. My home office supposedly has AT&T’s highest bandwidth option in my area, yet I still average only 175 kbs on long term uploads. It looks like that 2.5 GBs will be uploading for the next 32 hours according to this handy bandwidth calculator.

Upload Time for 2.5 GB of Enron PSTs

The raw speed of transfer and potential shipping costs/risks should be factored into your decisions to move your eDiscovery to the cloud. I am not saying that it is not practical or even more cost effective (especially at $25/GB/month). I am saying that you need to know about the upload/download issues and carefully evaluate whether you can tolerate them in your typical eDiscovery scenarios. I do not see the Cloud as being any different from most national hosting providers in this, except for the price of course.

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