Where The Cloud and eDiscovery Meet

“In today’s data-driven world, many enterprise executives have struggled to adapt their systems and strategies to the constantly evolving demands of regulatory compliance and industry-specific best practices. These issues are further exacerbated by the advent of eDiscovery, as no unprepared business is ever entirely safe from the potential of electronic litigation proceedings.
Many corporate executives have already moved their storage and services to a cloud computing environment, and surely even more will follow suit in the coming years. This presents a unique challenge to IT departments and chief information officers (CIOs), considering the uncharted territories of both the cloud and eDiscovery.

Discovery in the cloud

Likely the chief eDiscovery threat in a cloud environment is the third-party provider’s practices, as service level agreements (SLAs) are often not bulletproof. Further, when a court determines a business participated in non-compliant destruction or management of data, regardless of if the cloud provider was responsible or not, the firm will often be held liable.

Jamie Yap, writing for ZDNet, recently explained how these third-party data centers used after adoption of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) are relative landmines for the average enterprise. She cited recent statements of industry watchdogs that implied businesses are not simply exonerated from compliance requirements upon hiring a third-party cloud provider.

As if the eDiscovery and archiving challenges companies face when storing data internally were not enough, unprepared firms using SaaS for storage will have to worry about the service providers’ practices, capabilities and more, in addition to their own. Yap further noted that the availability of information demanded by a court is another pressure point, as the inability to retrieve the requested data in a timely fashion can lead to sanctions, fines and other headaches.

Deletion fears are mostly founded

Kim Dunn recently wrote in Business 2 Community that companies need to treat emails and other digital information as they would any physical document or record, especially when considering the increasing occurrence of eDiscovery proceedings. The author explained that the Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) act gives regulators the power to penalize any individual or company that destroys physically or digitally held information in a non compliant fashion.

Dunn further noted that all digital information must be treated with the same care as paper documents, adding that businesses should consider the use of archiving solutions available to ensure compliant retention practices in the face of either incendiary or negligent staff members.

Field threats, capitalize on technology

With all of that being said, there is no reason firms should not still consider the use of an SaaS-provider, as the potential for reduced capital expenditures and operational costs is a savory notion in a turbulent economy. The trick is to not go about adoption of such technology in a half-hearted, poorly planned fashion.

Preparation is key, and the use of a proven eDiscovery solutions provider can help any business capitalize on the benefits of advanced enterprise IT products, while remaining safe from the threats of electronic litigation proceedings.”