On the Path of E-Discovery

NAS players like BlueArc stand to gain from greasing the wheels of justice

March 24, 2006

3 Min Read
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Legal action calls for lots of data delivered quickly. So when storage vendors want a piece of it, they need to deliver capacity and speed.

"All of our deals are time sensitive," says Kevin Jacobs, technology VP at Document Technologies Inc. (DTI), a document management service provider. "I'll get a call from a client: 'We just got out of court, we need this stuff in this city by 3 p.m. tomorrow' Or, 'We got subpoenaed, we need this stuff tomorrow, our attorneys are billing us until then.' We're always under time constraints."

In recent months, a spate of services, products, and partnerships have grown up aimed at electronic discovery -- more familiarly known as e-discovery. The point is to reduce the time it takes lawyers to comb through documents related to compliance, litigation, or other legal matters.

EMC has bundled hardware, software, and services into a package designed to help companies manage electronic record discovery. Storage vendor Xiotech bought document management firm Daticon out of bankruptcy. Practically every hardware and software archiving vendor has targeted firms that need to do e-discovery. (See AXS-One, OnSite Team, Zantaz Offers On Demand, Symantec Gathers Partners, CA Collaborates Email, Oracle, and Symantec Gathers Partners.)

Some storage companies that don’t have their own e-discovery practices cash in by selling storage to companies such as DTI that do e-discovery. DTI uses proprietary software to process records for its e-discovery clients. But it needs a powerful storage system to make its practice fly.DTI copies files such as emails, documents, databases, and digital images off its clients' computers, loads them onto systems in DTI's National Technology Center in Atlanta, and searches for the records it needs.

Until DTI cranked up its e-discovery business, Jacobs says it was running Dell Windows NAS systems -- "not real fancy." Jacobs says DTI was moving millions of files a day over 150 servers, and his NAS filers would hang up while processing the files and running backups. "The most substantial bottleneck we had was storage I/O."

Late last year he went looking for fancier systems. He considered a 3PAR SAN and NAS systems from BlueArc, EMC, and Network Appliance. In January, he purchased a BlueArc Titan 2200 as a gateway with 42 Tbytes of Engenio storage behind it. The determining factor: speed.

"It was a matter of the I/Os we could move over the network," he says. "We have all machines hitting data in the same location. Now we move ten times as many files per second as before. We brought NetApp in house, and it was about one-quarter the speed."

While looking for a new NAS system, Jacobs says he made an interesting e-discovery of his own about dealing with storage vendors. "They all say, 'Here are the people you shouldn't deal with,' instead of why you should deal with them. They didn't want to focus on the fastest product, just negatives."The Titan 2200 has been fast enough that Jacobs hasn't found the need yet to take advantage of the 10-Gbit/s connectivity BlueArc offers by letting customers swap out a GigE blade for a 10-GigE blade. "When I do go to 10-GigE, I can pull a blade out and put a new blade in, and I'm ready to go," he says. "But for now, we haven't seen loads on the network enough to justify it."

— Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

Organizations mentioned in this article:

  • 3PAR Inc.

  • BlueArc Corp.

  • Dell Inc. (Nasdaq: DELL)

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • Engenio Information Technologies Inc.

  • Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP)

  • Xiotech Corp.

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