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Legal applications of KM trend toward flexibility, simplicity

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E-discovery gets friendlier

Founded 15 years ago as an information management software producer, Sherpa Software now has its biggest market in e-discovery and information governance. Its newest product, Altitude IG, is designed to facilitate collaboration between IT and the legal department. “The genesis of Altitude IG was to provide enterprise level processing for e-discovery and policy enforcement,” says Marta Farensbach, director of product services at Sherpa. “When one team performs e-discovery tasks like searching or analytics, the results can be shared with other stakeholders.”

The results can also be shared by inside and outside counsel. Although IT generally sets up the e-discovery process, the legal department can now run searches without intervention from IT. “Collaboration is very important, because the legal team does not understand the technical minutia of IT systems, and IT does not know the parameters of the search or details of the matter,” Farensbach says. “The two need to work together.”

Sherpa uses search technology from dtSearch, which has the capability to scan nearly every file type. Using dtSearch abilities in conjunction with proprietary search technology and having access to a variety of data stores give Altitude IG a federated capability that is important not only for e-discovery but also for companies that want to take a proactive role in information governance, checking for problems before they become legal issues. “We have customers who are using Altitude for investigations in HR, compliance or security,” Farensbach explains, “even though they are not in an e-discovery situation.”

The legal industry has been cautious about using the cloud, viewing the lower cost as less of a factor than the concerns about security. However, many of Sherpa’s customers have migrated essential services such as e-mail to the cloud and are now attracted to cloud-based e-discovery. “Many of our customers became interested in our product because it was cloud-based and complemented our on-premises offerings,” says Farensbach. “Some went directly to that delivery model, while others started on premise and then migrated.”

E-discovery simplified

CloudNine is a cloud-based product used for e-discovery and investigation. The company also provides professional services to organizations that want to delegate some or all of their discovery tasks to a third party. CloudNine is designed to be simple to use, with a straightforward online process for uploading, reviewing and producing electronically stored information for litigation and investigations.

“Although we are CloudNine, we are not cloud-based the way most people think of it,” says Brad Jenkins, president and CEO of CloudNine. “We use a private infrastructure, and the data is highly secure, residing on dedicated servers on a dedicated network in a Tier 4 data center. We don’t use the public cloud at all.” Two pricing models are available; pay-as-you-go plans start at $25/GB per month, which includes 30 days of hosting but does not include processing (normally $100/GB for self-service processing). Subscription plans start at $1,000 per month, which includes unlimited self-service processing and up to 50GB of hosting.

The customers for CloudNine have typically been companies that provided litigation support as well as small to medium-sized law firms. Recently, larger law firms have started to use it to manage e-discovery for their clients, and that group of customers now includes dozens of firms, including more than 50 of the top 250 law firms. In addition, large (Fortune 100) corporations are using CloudNine for internal investigations and compliance.

CloudNine uses dtSearch as its search software. “It indexes very quickly,” says Doug Austin, VP of professional services, “and handles a range of file types from e-mail to documents and database information.” As for processing, CloudNine automatically unpacks the data, pulls out metadata and text and uses OCR to convert image files to searchable text.

“One thing that customers are very interested in is analytical capabilities,” Austin adds. “They want to be able to get an idea early on about whether they should settle or litigate. If they can analyze their data quickly, they can decide what their exposure is and then choose the best course of action. The simplified e-discovery automation that CloudNine provides enables our clients to perform that analysis and make those decisions quickly and effectively.”

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