Significant Microsoft 365 eDiscovery Challenges Require a New Approach

The adoption of cloud-based Microsoft 365 (“MS 365”) by enterprises continues to grow exponentially, with the company recently reporting 300 million monthly active users, and the addition of over 100 petabytes of new content each month. There is no question that MS 365 is now a major data source for eDiscovery, second only to file-shares and laptops, and as such provides challenges to every legal and eDiscovery practitioner.

While MS 365 includes built-in eDiscovery tools in the Security and Compliance Center, many users look to third party alternatives due to the high cost, perceived concerns over the accuracy of search results, and other key challenges. However, most non-MS eDiscovery tools collect from MS 365 by simply making bulk copies of data associated with individual accounts, and then attempting to transfer that data en masse to their own proprietary processing and/or review platform. This problematic approach is counter-productive to the very purpose of why you put data in the cloud.

Such an effort is very costly, time consuming, and inefficient for many reasons. For one, this bulk transfer triggers data transfer throttling by Microsoft, causing significant time delays. But the main problem is that clients who are investing in MS 365 do not want to see all their data routinely exported out of its native environment every time there is an eDiscovery or compliance investigation. Organizations are fine with a targeted set of potentially relevant ESI leaving MS 365. What they do not want is a mass bulk export of terabytes of data at great expense because eDiscovery and processing tools need to first broadly ingest that data in their disparate platform in order to even begin the indexing, culling and searching process.

Additionally, organizations, especially larger enterprises, rarely house all or even most of their data within MS 365, with hybrid cloud and on-premise environments being the norm. MS 365 eDiscovery tools can only address what is contained within MS 365. Any on-premise data, including on-premise Microsoft sources (SharePoint, Exchange) cannot be readily consolidated by MS 365, and neither can data from other cloud sources such as Google Drive, Box, Dropbox, etc. And of course, laptops and file-shares are critical to eDiscovery collections and are also not supported by the MS 365 eDiscovery tools, with Microsoft indicating that they do not have any plans to address all of these non-MS 365 data sources.

So, eDiscovery software providers need to have a good process to perform unified search and collection of MS 365 and non-MS 365 sources. To achieve requisite efficiency and the minimization of data transfer, this process should be based upon a targeted search and collection in-place capability, and not simply involve mass export of data out of MS 365 for downstream processing and searching.

To answer this unmet critical need, X1 has added MS 365 data connectors to our X1 Enterprise Collect platform. X1 Enterprise Collect provides users the unique ability to search and collect MS 365 data in-place. X1’s optimized approach of iterative search and targeted collection enables organizations to apply proportionality principles across both cloud and on-premise data sources with clear and consistent results for effective eDiscovery. The search results are returned in minutes, not weeks, and thus can be highly granular and iterative, based upon multiple keywords, date ranges, file types, or other parameters. This approach typically reduces the eDiscovery collection and processing costs by at least one order of magnitude (90%).

The X1 Enterprise Collect Platform is available now from X1 and its global channel network in the cloud, on-premise, and with our services available on-demand. For a demonstration of the X1 Enterprise Collect Platform, contact us at [email protected]. For more details on this innovative solution, please visit www.x1.com/x1-enterprise-collect-platform.