Migrated from eDJGroupInc.com. Author: Greg Buckles. Published: 2014-02-23 19:00:00Format, images and links may no longer function correctly. 

2014 is shaping up to be a good year for Microsoft when it comes to SharePoint migrations and/or Office 365 adoption. Consulting client inquires have had me writing, speaking and researching about the new Microsoft eDiscovery Center and the overall challenges/benefits of launching corporate ESI to the cloud. But enterprise migrations require many months of planning, user education and testing prior to moving email and files. I am seeing conservative enterprise clients estimating 12-18 months as a realistic project lifecycle when assessing upgrades and migrations. That creates a need for interim tools to perform eDiscovery collections from on-premise SharePoint and/or cloud SharePoint in Office 365 environment. Since some IT groups have a tendency to kick off pilot projects without consulting legal or compliance, I can see many companies having a short-term need for a collection tool where they do not want to commit to a full ‘eDiscovery platform’.  Thus the inspiration to update the SharePoint Collection category in the eDJ Matrix and add a new category just for Office 365 Collection.

The market has been scrambling to integrate their collection tools with Microsoft’s various APIs to enable corporate preservation and collection functionality on these live repositories. If you are shopping for a solution to fill this requirement, expect to wade through a lot of confusing marketing claims. You need to clearly define your requirements in terms of:

  • Target environment
    • On premise servers
    • Hosted private cloud
    • Office 365 – Cloud
  • SharePoint versions supported
    • 2003
    • 2007
    • 2010
    • 2013
  • Functionality – keeping this basic
    • Search
      • Meta-data level – site name, access rights, dates, types
      • Re-Index – selected or all sites, some systems require preservation collection to index ESI
      • Federated FAST 2013 index – if all sites are indexed on 2013 architecture
    • Preservation
      • In place – requires SP 2013 to support hold tagging and Recoverable Item behavior
      • Preservation Collection – most common approach to date, but raises issues of collection management and storage explosion
  • Implementation approach
    • Desktop-Targeted collections to local storage
    • Enterprise – local server, storage and database required
    • Cloud – Collect to cloud repository
  • Purchasing model
    • Desktop – per collection machine or processor core
    • Enterprise Software – based on company size for purchase plus support
    • Subscription – most with volume, target, matter or other caps
    • Service/Volume – Straight cost per GB collected

A recent client request to update last year’s solution shortlist uncovered some key differentiators if you need to tackle SharePoint discovery. First, look at your current environment and state of migration. Microsoft’s 2013 SharePoint infrastructure promises FREE (yes, FREE) basic search, holds and collections through the SharePoint eDiscovery Center template.  This is a first generation Microsoft product and traditional large enterprise IT wisdom was to wait for others to find issues before implementation. My recommendation is to carefully look at the workflow and functionality supported to evaluate if it meets your discovery profile and usage cases.  Public US or global corporations with significant litigation, regulatory requests or compliance requirements will probably want mature platform functionality such as analytics, multi-matter management, granular security roles and more.  The main decision is where is your SharePoint ESI and what version of SharePoint is it stored on? If you will have significant on-premise SharePoint 2010 or earlier sites for the next year, then you should probably seek either an interim desktop tool or invest in an eDiscovery Platform with legacy SharePoint collection capabilities.

Here is my fast shortlist broken into groups. With such a hot ESI data source, I expect to hear from you or providers that I have missed recent releases (especially since I am still scheduling post LTNY briefings). I have added qualifications or disclaimers where I either have not had a recent briefing or product sites were unclear. Some of these offerings can be implemented in various configurations and with different modules, so consider this a preliminary blog list, not a research report with confirmation briefings.  I have deliberately left off generic internet collection tools that do not have use the APIs to gather all potential custom metadata and associated ESI.

Stand Alone/Desktop/Cloud Offerings

Server/Appliance/Enterprise Offerings

On Premise SharePoint Only – no information on Office 365

Enterprise Archives – worth mentioning those with Office 365 integrations that I found

SharePoint and Office 365 will become an increasingly common named data source in discovery requests. If you have a unique ESI on these systems, you need the plan, tools and personnel to preserve and collect from it. Service providers are frequently filling this functional gap with corporations. Many may be using forensic web copy tools or other manual methods that may not be capable of capturing custom metadata and unique object types common in modern corporate SharePoint sites. As with any new technology or workflow; test, document and disclose before relying on your chosen solution. Love to hear about your experiences with these tools or answer questions about ours.

Greg Buckles can be reached at Greg@eDJGroupInc for offline comment, questions or consulting. 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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