Simpana 9: An Integrated Solution For A Complicated Problem

Monday, May 2, 2011 - 10:51

Editor: Please tell us about your background and professional experience.

Wojcik: I work for the Information Access and Management business unit at CommVault as a product marketing manager. My role and expertise covers everything from traditional content archiving - i.e., retaining records for long periods of time in a space-efficient way - to information governance, e-discovery and compliance-related issues and how our software addresses them.

Editor: Would you like to tell us about CommVault and its history?

Wojcik: CommVault is an awarding-winning data and information management company with a core software product called Simpana® . Simpana software is a modular solution built on a single unifying code base and platform to archive, search, protect, replicate and access data from all different sources throughout the enterprise. This holistic approach is particularly important from an e-discovery, compliance and corporate governance perspective because all data sources are managed through a single platform and architecture. This creates a single pool of indexed data, which is ultimately easier, less costly and less risky to manage.

Editor: There has been a lot of discussion about proactive e-discovery. What does that mean exactly?

Wojcik: Proactive e-discovery is a better way for us to help our clients prepare for the future. We know that e-discovery is inevitable: the FRCP amendments taught us that. All companies - large or small, public or private - are subject to litigation. More and more organizations are finding themselves in repetitive litigation, and, to make matters worse, courts are becoming increasingly intolerant of mistakes in e-discovery, preservation and legal holds. Together, these factors are a wake-up call to GCs about the seriousness of addressing e-discovery preservation and collection proactively in order to reduce the risk of sanctions. Today, companies are looking for a repeatable and defensible e-discovery process they can put in place to stay ahead of any litigation requests.

Editor: You mentioned repeat litigation. I know that corporate counsel would like to avoid reinventing the wheel each time e-discovery occurs.

Wojcik: Exactly. Instead of ignoring the inevitable, GCs, working with their IT departments, can adopt a proactive model and begin putting the processes and technology in place to handle any future e-discovery requests in an efficient way. With CommVault Simpana software, for example, critical data is collected now so it eliminates the time spent on gathering data from online and offline sources when a request is received. When the need arises, in-house or outside counsel can immediately conduct searches across the enterprise to identify and preserve responsive data.

Proactive e-discovery streamlines the discovery process, enabling a company to avoid a mad dash for the collection, search, and preservation the first time around - and the second and third, etc.

Editor: You mentioned the courts' growing impatience with mistakes. What are some of the other issues driving organizations to be more proactive in the way they manage information?

Wojcik: Being proactive about your information in general is just smart business, whether you address it from a regulatory, legal or financial standpoint. A proactive strategy helps reverse the drain on corporate resources and productivity that occurs when the company embarks on a last-minute search expedition.

Editor: What is the benefit of having an on-premise solution for e-discovery?

Wojcik: We talk a lot about the unnecessary processing and review of unrelated, unresponsive or duplicate data getting passed on to a third party for review, which amounts to astronomical costs for many companies. With an in-house solution, the user herself can mine into search results and cull the data set before passing it on to a costly third party. Not only does an in-house search save money, it also results in a more distinct and relevant collection of items. One customer comes to mind when talking about on-premise versus off-premise cost comparisons. We helped them cut their e-discovery costs in half annually, and they projected their third-party attorney review time would be cut as much as 99 percent.

Editor: How does an in-house e-discovery solution benefit cross-functional teams such as legal, IT and compliance?

Wojcik: With an in-house e-discovery solution, legal and/or business teams can conduct their own searches and reviews without having to involve the IT department in issues that are potentially sensitive. It also eliminates the significant bottleneck often associated with IT's turnaround times. In-house counsel can work with tighter deadlines and get more reliable results because they know exactly what they are looking for, while IT folks may not. This is especially important when we are talking about early case assessments and weighing the costs of discovery against settlement or other alternatives.

Editor: What would you advise companies to look for in an e-discovery solution?

Wojcik: The first key component for any e-discovery solution is the ability to automatically place responsive items on legal hold. Traditional legal hold technology treats the archive as a single entity and only tags messages located inside that archive storage pool. What CommVault does instead is to offer a federated legal hold feature that searches and identifies relevant items across both the archive and the backup. This means that all relevant data - in all storage pools, across both backup and archive data, regardless of the normal retention policies - is automatically preserved. The user doesn't even have to think about it.

Another component to look for is accounting for all data sources, and that includes email data, such as MS Exchange and Lotus Notes; any and all SharePoint data, file data and databases; all data associated with laptops and workstations; and backup data across multiple geographies and sites, including those stored in the cloud, both public and private. CommVault's modern approach to information management ensures this level of inclusion.

Editor: Does having a proactive e-discovery strategy apply to multinational corporations?

Wojcik: Yes, absolutely. Collecting and classifying critical data at the time of its creation, no matter where you are or what the issue is, helps eliminate the time spent gathering data from a near-infinite number of different sources - backup tapes, network shares and employee workstations. Such data collection can be used for a variety of reasons, including compliance with HR and privacy laws, which are much stricter in Europe than in the U.S. Most multinational organizations will face some sort of legal or regulatory exposure that is specific to a country in which they operate, so there is really no downside to taking a proactive and global approach to how it manages and organizes information.

Editor: The EU and Canada have very different privacy laws from our own. Can this be accounted for when you build a solution for a multinational corporation?

Wojcik: It should be. Multinational companies need to look for an e-discovery solution that allows retention policies and privacy settings to be configured to whatever the user's jurisdiction requires them to be.

Editor: I was reading that CommVault started as a storage company and grew from there.

Wojcik: Yes, CommVault's history is rooted in providing software to optimize and unify data storage. We have a market-leading backup and recovery solution, which is how most people know us. We are very well known by the folks on the IT side of the house.

We realized it made a lot of sense to build our e-discovery capabilities to augment our archive and backup offerings. This is exactly why CommVault stands out as a solution. We developed our solution from the ground up, whereas other vendors acquired e-discovery technology companies piecemeal, resulting in a patchwork solution that requires a lot of product integration.

Editor: Can you tell us about your tiered storage system?

Wojcik: We offer solutions for archiving to both public and private clouds, in addition to on-site storage, on disk or tape. Moving data to the appropriate tiers saves space while protecting data effectively. Our integrated system allows the user to retrieve the data seamlessly, no matter where it is stored. Simpana is highly scalable and is suited for any company size.

Editor: When you extended your solution, how did you approach the search optimization piece?

Wojcik: We embedded the Microsoft® Fast technology into our solution for search and content indexing. We are constantly hearing that data growth is completely out of control, but firms still need to be able to search that data. Potentially sensitive information is everywhere; email and files are full of smoking guns. CommVault began with a solution to streamline content and maximize efficiency. From there, we moved into embedding search within the solution to address the needs of legal and compliance buyers while still being able to leverage Simpana's core platform features. Essentially, this turns a company's data into an information asset that a user can access anytime.

Editor: How is CommVault's offering different from other solutions in the market?

Wojcik: I would stress three points: First, Simpana software allows all search and e-discovery to be done from a single point of management. Our software creates a central repository where users can search and apply all of their policies. The ability to collect data from all data sources and centrally manage it from one location is what sets CommVault apart from the competition. Other vendor solutions involve multiple point products, which definitely carries a greater burden of risk and administration. Our integrated system allows our customers to reduce their e-discovery cost and complexity.

Second, Simpana 9 is one of the only true solutions to deliver federated legal hold across the organization to preserve and collect all forms of relevant electronically stored information, or ESI.

Third, the product was engineered from the ground up to support the workflow of EDRM, the Electronic Discovery Reference Model. We have the industry's broadest collection and support of data sources throughout all stages of EDRM, from identification, preservation and collection, through processing and review, and on to production to third parties.

Editor: Switching from a legacy system can be extremely costly and time-consuming for a company. Do you see many companies making the change, and what finally prompts them to do it?

Wojcik: The alternative is also costly. Unfortunately, many organizations only choose to adjust their e-discovery process after they've been hit with a lawsuit or have gone through a very painful e-discovery effort. We strive to educate our customers about how much a proactive approach can save them, both in time and money. In addition to the example I gave earlier, we have many customers enjoying significant cost savings by conducting their own searches rather than paying a third party to do so.

Furthermore, because all of their information is consolidated and accessible, our customers are able to collaborate and build comprehensive information governance strategies that put their firm in a power position. The cost savings from this approach are very compelling over alternative solutions.

Editor: What new functionality does Simpana 9 offer?

Wojcik: One of the major advancements in the new release is in the search tool, which we've made more user-friendly and ergonomic. The new interface has been created with legal/business users in mind, allowing them to more intuitively classify, mine and access information.

Another important feature for the context of this discussion is role-based access. The results of searches, common classification schemas and information collections can be intuitively shared among peers and related information stakeholders virtually across the enterprise. This also enables the customized search and alignment of individuals to an information governance, e-discovery or compliance-related workflow process.

Please email the interviewee at ewojcik@commvault.com with questions about this interview.