Today’s announcement of the Relativity-X1 Enterprise integration had me puzzled at first. After all, Relativity Collect has been integrated with X1 Discovery files/emails since 2019. So what is the difference? Digging into the announcement and their documentation, my take on the new integration with X1 Enterprise Platform is the indexing of remote custodians and other data sources for in place search/collection. There are two schools of thought on the creation of an ‘enterprise index’ for universal legal search of live data sources. Ever since cloud platforms like M365 and G Suite delivered end user enterprise search, customers and plaintiffs have wanted to take advantage of live search for discovery with mixed results. The argument comes down to acceptable quality and completeness. Most eDiscovery providers will trash talk these search indexes and insist on full custodial/chronological exports that are processed and hosted in ‘built for purpose’ eDiscovery platforms. These same providers have historically neglected to test or inform customers of their chosen technologies search issues or exceptions. X1 follows the Autonomy ‘Chaining Together’ model of building a concatenated enterprise index of live content in place. Do you federate search requests to the target system’s indexes or create your own distributed index for a single concatenated search?
Enterprise customers prefer simple, push button solutions. The Relativity-X1 Enterprise solution is tailored for that preference if you have the budget. It is a no brainer for existing X1 corporate customers whose users demanded a functional single search interface covering their email, SharePoint, OneDrive, Teams, Slack and local content. Microsoft continues to make slow and steady progress migrating all of their diverse data sources into their universal storage architecture. Until that migration is complete and M365 customers have a single search experience, X1 and other more nimble players will continue to fill that gap.
While I now see the short-term value proposition of this new integration, I have doubts about its long term market viability. Just as my old archiving products have lost market share to M365’s ‘unlimited mailboxes’, Microsoft and Google ‘free’ features will eventually displace X1 and other search providers with customers satisfied with minimal functionality. In the end, you should not require a separate, external index just for discovery. Most full text indexes require 10-25% of the target storage size. Autonomy index was larger than target source for some customers we interviewed back in 2010. Large enterprises will have a hard time justifying the extra overhead and bandwidth.
The pandemic has many enterprises scrambling to deal with the short term consequences of remote employees and new data sources. The timing of this partnership expansion is excellent for corporate discovery teams worried about their meeting their preservation and collection obligations now that their custodians are mostly home officed.