Thought Leadership and Industry Trends
Cloud Storage for EDiscovery is Not a One-Size Fits All Solution
By Milton Cervantes, Director of Product Strategy, CDS
Over the past handful of years, there has been a growing trend for companies to move at least some of their data to the cloud. Due to many users’ familiarity with storing personal data on services like iCloud and Dropbox, there is an increased comfort level with hosting data in cloud environments. On an enterprise level, there are a number of providers offering data management, project management, and information governance tools in the cloud. Although there are many benefits to the cloud, when it comes to eDiscovery and its workflows, there are additional factors companies need to consider.
Pros and cons of cloud storage
In most cases, the cloud allows companies to reduce their costs. They don’t have to manage an expensive infrastructure, which also means less staff is required to update and monitor the related equipment and software. At the same time, there is expanded availability of the data since cloud platforms can easily scale up to accommodate larger quantities of information. The tradeoff is that as businesses move sensitive data away from their immediate control, there are more security risks. In turn, protecting the data adequately may affect mobility and accessibility of the information, undoing many of the advantages of moving to the cloud.
Because of the security risks, cloud storage shouldn’t become a one-stop shop for all enterprise data needs. Companies must weigh the advantages and risks for storing different types of data in different types of cloud environments. These are very case-specific determinations.
Even when cloud storage is determined to be appropriate for a certain data set at a conceptual level, companies need to still evaluate and compare cloud platforms in terms of functionality, reliability, and security.
In the context of eDiscovery, all of these issues take on added importance.
Cloud vs non-cloud data
In many cases, companies are not putting all of their data in the cloud. For example, financial institutions may embrace the cloud for administrative workflows and emails, with strict rules as to what information can be stored and sent using this technology. However, their transactional and proprietary information is not in the cloud. For eDiscovery, this raises issues for the companies, their law firms, and eDiscovery providers because this sensitive data is often required during the litigation process. Taking the data and placing it on a cloud-based eDiscovery platform could open it to risks that the financial institution has specifically designed its systems to prevent.
Additional restrictions can arise when dealing with eDiscovery for government agencies. The U.S. federal government’s FedRAMP program outlines a strict series of security standards that must be met before a cloud service provider can be used by a federal agency. EDiscovery experts must either be FedRAMP compliant or have a non-cloud solution when handling data from government agencies.
As service providers, law firms and eDiscovery companies need to consider their own service platforms as well as how they will interact with cloud data. Their platforms must be cloud compliant. EDiscovery companies in particular, have to get both cloud and non-cloud data into a single, secure environment. The solution is not as simple as just moving all the data to the cloud, given the sensitivities outlined above. Solutions such as private cloud and hybrid cloud platforms can alleviate security challenges, but service providers must be prepared to address the specific security concerns of their clients that handle the most sensitive types of information.
As cloud platforms become more prevalent, companies and service providers will need to make their own determinations through thorough, accurate communication regarding how different types of data need to be handled. EDiscovery vendors can provide expertise in evaluating when and how to use cloud storage to maximize its benefits and minimize the risks.
If you are utilizing or considering cloud storage for document retention, contact us for a consultation.