Collecting, storing and protecting data crucial to defending your company against legal action has become a routine part of doing business in today's world. Storage and content management specialist EMC is moving to cash in on the process.
With high-profile legal battles such as those currently raging between patent litigants RIM and NTP in the mobile e-mail space, or Qualcomm and Broadcom in the handset technology market, it's clear that managing complex legal activities has become a strategic element of doing business in most industries.
Based on that reality, EMC, based in Hopkinton, Mass., has launched a new set of software and services designed to help companies prepare in advance for such events.
As the cost of hiring lawyers to pore over the reams of information needed to make or break lawsuits continues to climb, it seems likely that helping companies get ready to handle such events could provide EMC with another lucrative business opportunity.
"This is a business problem that has been around for a long time, but over the last two to three years it has really risen its head as the costs related to the process of legal discovery continue to rise and lawsuits continue to proliferate," said John Gubernat, director of EMC's Compliance Practice.
"Because of the manner in which information is stored by companies today, across so many different types of systems and documents, there's a real cost associated with collecting and preserving important data, and most companies are forced to pay outside firms a lot of money to do the work needed to respond to lawsuits," he said.
Gubernat said that by helping firms better manage the types of information they will need to access in the wake of lawsuit filings, EMC's package could help greatly reduce the amount of money its customers spend paying lawyers to conduct the process of legal discovery.
Dubbed the EMC eDiscovery Solution, the package consists of an integrated array of EMC's information and content management software, as well as networked storage applications and professional services designed to help companies collect and store legally important information.
In addition to helping prepare against potential litigation, Gubernat said, the offering will also help firms manage the process of remaining compliant with the increasing range of government data retention requirements such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
In a nutshell, Gubernat described the eDiscovery package as a collection of EMC's generally available products aggregated in such a way as to address this specific business task, with a set of professional services available to help move the concept forward.
"Instead of paying a lot of vendors to do all this work, we're proposing that people invest in strategic infrastructure to get their arms around the costs and review, and then allow that investment to improve to support future plans," Gubernat said.
"First, businesses need to clean up problems in their infrastructure, and then add tools to do smarter things with their data; we don't recommend trying to do this in a big bang, but there's a need for many companies to improve in this area over time."
Specifically, the eDiscovery offering includes services for assessing a firm's data classification, records management, e-mail archiving, storage tape restoration, migration and erasure policies.
The product, which is priced based on the size of a company's project and goals, includes EMC applications such as the EmailXtender archiving application, Documentum federated search tools, Documentum ECM (enterprise content management) software, and the Centera and Clariion networked storage software.
Vivian Gopico Tero, analyst with research firm IDC, based in Framingham, Mass., said EMC's move is strategically savvy, as any such proactive legal technologies would need to be integrated tightly with storage and ECM tools, the company's strong suit.
By convincing companies that there is a legal benefit to adopting its applications, she said, EMC is also providing another area of incentive to adopt its core product lines.
"Companies clearly want to introduce efficiencies in the collection process, as it is in the discovery portion of many lawsuits that firms are faced with the highest costs," Gopico Tero said. "If companies can improve the details of discovery, while leveraging the technology involved into other projects, you could see where some firms will see something attractive in this proposition."
Gopico Tero said EMC continues to drill down throughout the corporate data infrastructure to find opportunities such as legal discovery where it can translate the technologies it already offers into answers to critical business problems.
In selling eDiscovery to customers, the firm will likely argue that companies can reuse the same content gathering process to help wage multiple lawsuits simultaneously, multiple lawsuits being a great fear of many businesses, she said.
"If [EMC] can help put more predictability into the discovery process it will help businesses gauge the cost of future lawsuits and refine their legal budgets," Gopico Tero said. "Any manner in which they can help simplify the entire process may be seen as a big advantage by some customers."