New E-Mail Management Software from EMC Helps Companies Cope with Litigation

4/2/09Follow @wroush

It’s a rare event for EMC, the Hopkinton, MA-based storage and information management giant that has been on an acquisition spree over the last few years, to launch a new product line in-house. But that’s what’s happening this week as EMC rolls out “SourceOne,” a new family of software products designed to help companies prepare for, and minimize the costs of, legal cases that may require them to produce corporate documents such as e-mails.

When companies get hauled into court, new federal rules put into place in 2006 mean they have to be ready to hand over stored e-mail and instant messages as part of the discovery process. If they haven’t been archiving this information systematically before a discovery request hits, it can be extremely costly to comply fast enough to meet court deadlines. Market research firm Gartner reported last year that paying lawyers to sift through e-mail files for relevant messages costs an average of $18,750 per gigabyte.

SourceOne is designed to drastically reduce those costs. It consists, at launch, of two components. The first is an e-mail management program that works with corporate e-mail server systems such as Microsoft Exchange and IBM Lotus Notes/Domino to create a definitive archive of e-mails and instant messages. The system not only makes sure that all of a company’s e-mails are in one searchable location, but decreases storage needs by getting rid of duplicate data. The SourceOne e-mail management product is designed as a next-generation replacement for EMC’s EmailXtender product, which EMC inherited when it acquired Legato Systems in 2003, according to Kelly Ferguson, a senior product marketing manager at EMC.

The second component is the SourceOne Discovery Manager, which is specialized for searching large volumes of e-mail and isolating the subset of documents that must be handed over to outside counsel in legal cases. “A company might have a million messages that fit the date range or subject” for a given case, says Ferguson. “Discovery Manager will narrow that down so that only what is relevant is held in a secure ‘legal hold’ folder.” The system complies with the Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM), a set of e-discovery guidelines set up several years ago by a group of roughly 100 software vendors and consulting firms, including EMC.

Later this quarter, EMC plans to add a third component to the SourceOne family, the Discovery Collector, which will quickly scour a company’s larger information network—including desktops, laptops, file systems, Internet servers, and other content repositories—looking for documents relevant to a discovery request.

According to Ferguson, all three products have been designed with help from lawyers inside EMC’s own compliance practice. “We have a whole team of lawyers who speak the same language as our customers and can explain the implications of things like the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure,” says Ferguson.

While the old EmailXtender product was intended in part to help protect companies against litigation risks, it needed to be extended, so to speak, to help companies comply with discovery requests faster and more concisely. “We’ve been in this [compliance] space for a while, but what you’re seeing with the SourceOne announcement is a family of products that gets us more explicitly into different areas of the EDRM, offering products that go further downstream,” Ferguson says. By “downstream,” she means going beyond simple archiving tasks into the processes of identifying, preserving, and reviewing internal communications before they’re actually handed over.

Ferguson says a 1,000-person company could get the SourceOne family of applications up and running for less than $50,000, and that the software will likely pay for itself within the first year through reduced legal compliance costs.

SourceOne is a homegrown New England product. While EMC’s content management and archiving business is headquartered in Pleasanton, CA, the SourceOne family is actually being developed at EMC’s Nashua, NH, office, according to Ferguson. That office was formerly part of Legato, which had acquired a company called OTG, which had acquired a Nashua-born message archiving startup called xVault. All three of xVault’s original founders—Chris Rowen, Chris Gray, and Jerry Jourdain—are still with EMC, Ferguson says.

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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