Possibly the most onerous challenge an organization can face is litigation, whether the legal challenge is against another entity or from an individual, another organization or a government agency that is mounting a legal challenge against the organization. The resulting court orders usually demand an organization must provide specific records, both physical and electronic (E-discovery), from a range of specific dates and timeframes. E-Discovery requests can be a logistical nightmare for the organization due to the amounts of unstructured data that may be involved and specific legal requirements governing the management, storage and handling of the required data.
In complex litigation cases, large organizations with branch offices and/or various subsidiaries may have to recover court-ordered data from multiple time frames that could span many years and multiple backup sources. The resulting data sets could consist of many TBs or even PBs of data and millions of files.
There are several challenges for the organization in this type of situation:
- Where and how to store data for the litigation as economically and securely as possible while still providing rapid access to it. The amount can be very large as it will usually include files from emails, databases, documents, spreadsheets, audio and video files – to name a few – resulting in the need to possibly store many TBs of data and millions of files for a lengthy period. Complex litigation can often take years to resolve.
- How to properly secure the data to prevent any modification or destruction while controlling access to it in order to maintain proper chain of custody and data sovereignty. Additionally allowing the appropriate personnel to review the recovered data to determine privilege and its relevance, in relation to court orders, before giving any data to the requesting party.
- How to categorize and tag the data in such a way that will facilitate E-Discovery metadata searches for specific pieces of information to locate it quickly and efficiently. Court orders usually give organizations a limited amount of time to produce the data it orders to be held. Since the data recoveries from backup sources are usually bulk restores, it is necessary to sift through all recovered files to locate the ones pertinent to court orders while eliminating the ones that are not.
- How to properly protect the data with appropriate protection methods that ensure data persistence and retention for indefinite periods.
Efficiently Storing and Protecting E-Discovery Data
Organizations facing the sudden, unexpected need to store TBs of data consisting of millions of files may consider the cloud as a viable option to handle this unexpected load. While the initial costs of storing all this additional data in the cloud may seem reasonable, organizations may find the long-term cloud storage costs combined with transactional charges for moving data in and out of the cloud are greater than they expect. The organization also needs to consider the security and legal concerns in maintaining a proper chain of custody for the data.
A more efficient and secure way of dealing with this challenge is the implementation of an on-premises private cloud setup using commodity hardware. The organization can accomplish this by deploying its own private cloud using commodity hardware or using a turnkey commodity hardware based appliance with the necessary software already installed and configured for their use case. Object storage is ideal for storing very large quantities of data cost effectively.
An effective solution would provide a true unstructured data storage platform deployable in multiple form factors and that can handle unstructured data storage at scale using object storage. In addition to storage efficiency, it would also provide critical features such as:
- Global multi-protocol access for Object, NFS v3, and HDFS with support for object access using S3, Swift and Atmos APIs. Additionally it should provide robust ACLs support. This provides users with the means to securely access the data wherever it may be stored throughout its lifecycle.
- Strong, inline encryption that is applicable at the Namespace and Bucket level. It should also provide automated key management and automated enforcement of customer defined encryption policies. Additionally it should provide Namespace level segregation of encryption keys.
- Strong metadata search capabilities facilitating searches across user-defined and system level metadata searches with sort capabilities.
- Multi-tenancy features such as quota management, authentication and metering.
- Provides Geo-protection across multiple sites.
- Provides linear scalability, fault tolerance with self-healing for disk, node and rack failures as well as flexible load balancing.
With the appropriate object private cloud solution that provides the aforementioned capabilities, an organization can cost effectively and efficiently handle any evidence management challenge while maintaining proper security and control of its E-discovery data.
Sponsored by Dell EMC