Digital Reef Comes Out of Stealth Mode

Startup offers content management platform to index unstructured data for use in e-discovery, risk mitigation, and storage optimization

March 3, 2009

4 Min Read
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Digital Reef, a startup backed by venture capital, came out of stealth mode this week and began offering a software platform to search, classify, index, and manage large amount of unstructured data to help with challenges like e-discovery and storage optimization. It is jumping into a market that is crowded with hundreds of vendors seeking share in one of the few markets still showing strength in the down economy.

The company says its product will stand out in the crowd for several reasons: its architecture, its ability to create large indexes across a variety of documents and languages in a small amount of space, and its "similarity engine" and auto-classification capabilities that can find correlations among content. Digital Reef uses a tiered architecture with a cluster of systems, including a gateway into the system, a tier of job routers, and an analytics tier, says Brian Giuffrida, vice president of market and business development. "I can add any number of engines on any tier to scale the performance. That is unique to us," he says. Another factor, he says, is the job router understands when an indexing job fails and can restart it on the same machine or another one, rather than starting the entire process over.

Digital Reef also searches out all documents and other unstructured data, and uses descriptions to build the index. It can recognize and reconstruct email threads and uses pattern recognition to identify things like Social Security numbers or vehicle identification numbers or source code to find connections. The company similarity engine, which Giuffrida describes as the "main intellectual property" of the firm, can understand the context of information and "near duplication. Exact duplication is easy. Near duplication identification is hard," he says. The software will then rank the relevance of various pieces of content to each other so help in finding batches of data on the same topic or in the same thread.

The software also can do automatic classification of data without the need to train the system or seed it with examples. "We create a virtual file structure to represent all of the data in an organization and we can group things based on natural patterns and content. We also expose the top terms that cause a grouping to exist to help people understand why a documents is in that group," he says.

Other enterprise search and e-discovery vendors say their products and services offer similar capabilities. Digital Reef offers a more complete feature set than what is currently on the market, Giuffrida says. "And our indexing is very efficient. We only take up 25 percent of the original storage volume, not the 100 percent or 200 percent that other use," he says.The recent LegalTech show featured scores of companies offering new or enhanced products aimed at helping enterprises cut e-discovery costs and get a better handle on their unstructured data, which makes up the vast majority of information most have stored. And some of them promised capabilities that seem to match what Digital Reef is offering, For example, enterprise search vendor Recommind released a new version of its MindServer Search that offers improved relevance tuning and federated search capabilities. The company says its software can help with e-discovery by improving search results based on 25 different parameters and can group documents through conceptual search based on topics and priority, not just keywords.

While the weak economy and the slowdown in IT spending isn't favorable for a new tech company, Digital Reef is targeting the right market and appears to be offering the right technology, says Tony Asaro, the founder of consulting firm The INI Group. He says the clustered architecture allows for fast indexing of large quantities of data, and the ability to find information any place in an enterprise, regardless of location or language or data type, is a big plus.

"Lots of companies talk about being able to get to all of the data, index it efficiently, have a federated system, and discover similarities across languages and types of documents, but not many have delivered," Assaro says. "Digital Reef has unique technology that seems to be able to deliver on their promises. Given the growth in e-discovery, litigation, audits, and regulatory activity, there is an opportunity for them."

The company will offer its software under license or as a service. It can index, prepare, and classify 3-4 terabytes of data a day, Giuffrida says. He would not provide any specific pricing information. Digital Reef has around eight early customers, was formerly known as Auraria Networks, and recently raised $10 million in a second round of funding from Pilot House Ventures Group and Matrix Partners.

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