When it Comes to Collection, the OS is Not Your Friend

Victor Limongelli

Heading into 2011, the trend of organizations bringing in-house the data collection and preservation aspects of the EDRM, at least, is expected to continue. As you evaluate collection and preservation systems, however, it is critically important to keep in mind the impact of the operating system (“OS”), such as Windows, OS X, Linux, etc., on the performance and usability of your collection system. Many collection approaches try to use a “quick-and-dirty” approach of relying on the applicable OS to find and collect data. This approach has two overwhelmingly negative consequences.

First, there are a set of cases – such as IP theft, fraud, or employee disputes involving allegations of discrimination or harassment – in which hidden or “forensics” data is critically important. Collection systems that rely on the OS can “see” only what the OS presents to it, so this critical evidence can be missed entirely. Because of this, for an entire set of sensitive cases, collection systems that rely on the OS simply cannot be used. When deploying a system to handle your data collection and preservation needs, why would you go with a system that handles only some of your cases?

Second, and perhaps even more damning, collection systems that rely entirely on the OS (and File System) are much more disruptive to your business. To see why, let’s walk through a simple example. Let’s imagine a case with 50 custodians, all of whom have email (in the form of .PST files) stored locally on the laptops and desktops. Of the 50 custodians, five are senior executives (CEO, CFO, et al), and another 25 are salespeople, who use email to communicate with potential customers, as well as internally. The case is time sensitive, so collection needs to happen quickly. The company determines that, given the nature of the dispute (including the time period involved), it should preserve all of the email of the custodians. It kicks off its collection at 8:30 AM on a Tuesday morning. Oh no! It turns out all 50 custodians have Microsoft Outlook open on their laptops and desktops. Collection systems that rely on the OS and File System cannot collect files – such as .PSTs – unless and until they are not being used by other applications; in other words, the OS has “locked” the file. In order to collect these PSTs, the employees tasked with completing the collection would have to contact each and every custodian and have them log out of Outlook – taking the salespeople offline and disrupting the CEO’s and CFO’s day – so that the OS could be used to collect the email. Do you want to make that phone call (or, if you wanted to be ironic, send that email)? Perhaps you can imagine doing that once, for one case . . . but each and every time a collection needs to occur? Isn’t the Legal department trying not to harm the business?

As you look to deploy a collection and preservation system in 2011, by all means look for a system that can reach multiple data sources and handle common data formats, and one that enables easy, check-the-box creation of the collection criteria. And if you want a system that handles all of your cases, without disrupting your executives, your employees, or your business, beware the OS!

Victor Limongelli is president and chief executive officer of Guidance Software.

No comments :

Post a Comment