Enron Corp. has brought to light an issue that most organizations outside the financial services arena dont give much thought to: How do you quickly retrieve key e-mail messages or other electronic correspondence when litigation requires it.
One IT services company meeting the digital archiving and retrieval requirements of financial services firms in the event of an audit hopes to capitalize on the spotlight Enron has shone on the issue.
Zantaz Inc. is preparing to launch a new service, dubbed Zantaz Electronic Discovery, that is designed to help customers restore and recover electronic documents—e-mail specifically--for litigation support.
The service uses the backup tapes maintained by the client, whether they are in the form of a DLT, DAT or other type of media.
"We restore those tapes into a large database. Then we have proprietary software to do the search against that data. We take those hits out, put it into a format thats easy to read, or restore it to the format of the e-mail and put it on CD-ROM or DLT tape and send it back to them," said Kirk Deininger, vice president of business development for Zantaz, in Pleasanton, Calif.
The system Zantaz uses includes a digital safe infrastructure that provides the archiving and searching for e-mail or other electronic documents. It also uses indexing software developed by Zantaz to search out of billions of documents. Zantaz uses its own experts to conduct the searches for clients. "They know how to respond to audits or legal situations and can pull it together in an efficient way," said Deininger.
Zantaz has seen demand for such a service coming primarily from government agencies looking for litigation support or having to respond to press queries under the Freedom of Information Act.
"Some government agencies are getting requests from newspapers like the New York Times asking for e-mails in government organizations that have to do with Enron and a list of contact people. We can take their e-mail server backup tapes, restore them in this digital safe and do a context search, then respond," said Deininger.
Zantaz until recently was unique in providing an online e-mail archival service, but that distinction may not last, according to Adam Couture, senior analyst at Gartner Inc., in Lowell, Mass. "Then Iron Mountain jumped into the fray. There are a bunch of companies on the sidelines watching to see if e-mail archival [services] take off. If so, a bunch of people will jump into that," said Couture.
Other service firms that help to retrieve e-mail for the legal community include Ontrack Data in Minneapolis and Computer Forensics in Seattle.