E-discovery in the Cloud

Don't wait until the lawyers come calling to figure out if you can find your cloud-based data.

1 2 3 Page 2
Page 2 of 3

In another survey, conducted last year by Clearwell Systems (an e-discovery vendor acquired by Symantec last year) and consulting firm Enterprise Strategy Group, nearly 60% of more than 100 Fortune 2000 enterprises and government agencies said they felt that their cloud-based applications could potentially be subject to e-discovery.

In the same survey, however, only 26% of the respondents said they considered themselves somewhat or very prepared for e-discovery requests. In other words, says ESG analyst Katey Wood, "they said yes, they think they'll have litigation, but no, they are not prepared for it."

Murphy says he thinks lawyers might even start to target cloud-based sources of information, hoping to catch opponents unprepared. A wily opposing attorney could, for example, request discovery of data in a software-as-a-service provider's system, knowing that most companies have little experience collecting data from that particular source.

"Until we have a successful anecdote in which someone gets sued and they run their search successfully on data in the cloud, until they've actually done it at speed and to scale, we won't really know" how prepared companies are for e-discovery in the cloud, he says.

Tom Conophy, CIO of InterContinental Hotels Group, is one executive who believes he's got his bases covered. One of the $18 billion hospitality company's many cloud initiatives is a project to move its global reservations system, now on a mainframe, to the cloud.

IHG is in the process of choosing a cloud provider. In discussions about contract terms, the company is being "very careful about making sure that our intellectual property and our content is ours, and that at any given time we have the ability to access it, export it, turn it off -- whatever we need to do with it," says Conophy. "It's no different than if it was running in our own [data center]."

Be Mindful of Email, Social Media

Potential e-discovery problems vary depending on the type of cloud provider and the contract, observers say. Because email has been subject to e-discovery for a while, many email hosting providers have this covered in their contracts. And large cloud vendors that typically serve Fortune 500 companies are likely to pay more attention to the discoverability of data.

With other providers, the area can be murky. "A lot is negotiated on a vendor-by-vendor basis," says Wood.

The ease with which you can get data out of a SaaS-based system depends on the vendor. Salesforce.com, for example, "is not an easily searchable system -- because it's not a content management system per se -- and yet people are storing information there," says Murphy.

1 2 3 Page 2
Page 2 of 3
7 inconvenient truths about the hybrid work trend
Shop Tech Products at Amazon