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March 29, 2012updated 22 Aug 2016 12:55pm

Google adds eDiscovery option to Apps platform

Search giant aims to reduce cost of finding and preserving data for litigation

By Steve Evans

Google has joined the eDiscovery space, launching a tool called Vault for its Apps for Business customers.

EDiscovery is the identification and preservation of information for legal purposes, such as if a company is involved in a lawsuit. Once a bit of information or data is identified it is placed in "legal hold", meaning the data cannot be modified from that point on.

This process can prove to be very costly as it usually requires an expensive enterprise search system to be in place, however Google’s background in the search space can remove this cost, the company says.

"[Vault] can reduce the costs of litigation, regulatory investigation and compliance actions," wrote Jack Halprin, Google’s head of eDiscovery. "Litigation costs can really take a toll on a business when minor lawsuits can run up to many thousands of dollars, and larger lawsuits can cost even more."

"Vault helps protect your business with easy-to-use search so you can quickly find and preserve data to respond to unexpected customer claims, lawsuits or investigations. With an instant-on functionality and availability of your data a few clicks away, Vault provides access to all of your Gmail and on-the-record chats and can provide significant savings to your business over the traditional costs of litigation and eDiscovery," he added.

Halprin added that Apps Vault can include Gmail and on-the-record IM conversations to the eDiscovery process.

It is built on the same architecture as the rest of the Apps catalogue so does not require any significant or costly work done to the back-end, according to the company.

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"With the ability to search and manage data based on terms, dates, senders, recipients and labels, Vault helps you find the information you need, when you need it," Halprin said. "Vault gives management, IT, legal and compliance users a systemised, repeatable and defensible platform that will reduce the costs and risks of doing business."

Existing Google Apps for Business customers can add Apps Vault to their account for an additional $5 per user per month, the company said.

Some of the big players in the data management space have been adding eDiscovery capabilities to their portfolios recently. In May last year Autonomy acquired Iron Mountain’s online backup & recovery, digital archiving and eDiscovery technology, shortly before it was acquired by HP. Symantec also got in on the act last year, acquired Clearwell Systems for $390m.

While the announcement is good for the eDiscovery industry, Google’s entry into this space is somewhat limited, according to Craig Carpenter, VP of marketing at Recommind.

"Much like Symantec’s capabilities have traditionally been limited to their own applications/data (e.g. EnterpriseVault), Apps Vault does not touch anything outside of the Apps environment, and it looks to be keyword-only at this stage," he told CBR.

"Among all of the potential use cases Google cited in this announcement, from collaboration to records management, they chose eDiscovery. That speaks volumes and shows that eDiscovery is critically important," Carpenter added. "Google continues to (somewhat quietly) add to its cloud-based enterprise software capabilities. I would be shocked if Microsoft was not watching this announcement like a hawk.

"With this announcement, Google is taking on HP/Autonomy and Symantec/LiveOffice directly. In both matches, Google seems pretty well positioned…at least with the cloud component, with the on-premise component being another matter altogether."

Gartner reckons the market for eDiscovery will hit $1.7bn by 2014.

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