IBM Acquires E-Discovery Provider PSS Systems

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2010-10-13 Print this article Print

PSS Atlas helps companies identify the legal duties they have and the value of the information they have, and tie that to where and how the data is managed.

IBM added some fresh intellectual property and expertise in the growing e-discovery space on Oct. 13 by acquiring PSS Systems, a privately held company based in Mountain View, Calif. 

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

PSS Systems' Atlas software platform, designed for use by corporate counsel and IT management at large enterprises, enables companies to analyze their body of corporate information to automate governance and compliance policies across massive amounts of data.

Atlas helps companies identify the legal duties they have and the value of the information they have, and tie that to where and how the data is managed, President and CEO Deidre Paknad told eWEEK in a Sept. 3 interview.

The applications within Atlas also help legal departments and IT managers get rid of outdated company information in an automated, policy-driven manner. Because there is less data to save, this timely disposal of old data helps keep storage maintenance costs down.

PSS, founded in 2004, currently has more than 210,000 active holds under management involving more than 15 million custodians. Atlas is used by seven of the Fortune 10 companies.

IBM and PSS Systems had been working together on legal compliance for the Bank of America for a number of months.

CEO saw a legal 'sea change' on the horizon

"In late 2003, I saw an opportunity emerging on the horizon, and that was what I believed to be a sea change in the evidence obligations that legal departments faced, from paper obligations to all electronic information," Paknad told eWEEK.

"At the same time, the volume of data at companies was growing like crazy, and I thought, 'There's going to be a convergence, maybe even a train wreck, in the future, and here's an opportunity to help companies do a better job of managing those obligations and managing data volume.'"

In the past, poor visibility and ad hoc controls have caused companies to over-retain information and significantly overspend on information management, litigation and e-discovery, Paknad said.

A recent study by the Compliance, Governance and Oversight Council found that fewer than 25 percent of organizations are able to dispose of data properly because they lack rigorous legal hold management practices and effective record retention programs.

The report also estimates that that costs associated with legal electronic discovery average more than $3 million per case and that about 70 percent of information is often needlessly retained.

IBM plans to combine the Atlas package with its Information Lifecycle Governance software, said Ron Ercanbrack, vice president of enterprise content management at IBM.

This will give IBM a "comprehensive portfolio of offerings that address clients needs to manage, automate and apply policies to address the interlocking needs of the CLO, CIO and lines-of-business constituents," said Ercanbrack.

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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