Migrated from eDJGroupInc.com. Author: Greg Buckles. Published: 2011-04-13 11:10:18Format, images and links may no longer function correctly. At the IPRO Innovations 2011 customer conference in Phoenix last week, I participated in an excellent panel discussion focused on the potential impact of large enterprise content management (ECM) and archiving platforms expanding into the eDiscovery lifecycle. Panelists Ronald Sotak of Ryley Carlock & Applewhite and Olivia Gerroll of Esentio brought excellent if divergent perspectives. The first thing to realize is that the majority of our audience consisted of IPRO channel partners, i.e. eDiscovery service providers. Some service providers are threatened by global software companies’ recent push to incorporate eDiscovery features into enterprise platforms. Specialty markets like eDiscovery can be eroded when their services are absorbed into normal corporate business processes. So the real question was, “Will in-house software platforms replace the vendors?”

Jim King, IPRO’s CEO, moderated the panel and kicked things off with a provocative online video from CommVault. It takes a couple minutes to get through the usual FRCP discovery pain points, but it quickly gets interesting by attacking the EDRM (Electronic Discovery Reference Model) as effectively being the “definition of insanity”. Their main point seems to be the inherent inefficiency and cost of the traditional multistep-multiparty workflow, which I agree with. CommVault then proposes their own eDiscovery lifecycle model and promises to deliver all that functionality based on their Simpana archiving platform. Time after time I have seen companies wrap a simple interface around basic storage, search and tagging functionality and call that an eDiscovery solution. Heck, I may have even unwittingly participated in such an exercise in a former life. I have recently spent time testing CommVault and other archiving platforms for eDiscovery usage cases. While direct search and access to the source ESI provides huge potential benefits to the corporate legal/IT departments, I have yet to encounter a platform that I could say supported the complete eDiscovery lifecycle.


CommVault’s eDiscovery marketing campaign feels a lot like the early Microsoft reseller pitches around Exchange and Sharepoint 2010. The discovery devil is in the details. My testing on Exchange 2010 found a lot of good new features and definite advances for the IT administrator, but I could not see recommending it for eDiscovery use yet. Circling back to service provider’s displacement fears, I do think that these systems will force them to adapt their traditional volume-based pricing and offerings. The risks and complications of producing heterogeneous ESI to an adversarial party are sufficient to keep most companies from completely eliminating their trusted providers. However, I am seeing a lot of interest in dedicated, managed services contracts in combination with new technology acquisition initiatives. Corporations are starting to realize that they were really paying for the expertise more than processing capacity. Bringing high level expertise in house only pays off if you are a serial litigant with high discovery burdens. That means you still need support for peak burst capacity and resolving new issues. So I think that service providers are here to stay, but only if they can adapt their offerings to meet the new market demands.  What do you think?

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