Businesses these days need to keep their data, structured and unstructured like e-mail, and Zantaz can help them do it. Lawyers need to look at company data through legalised invasion, aka legal discovery, and Zantaz can help the lawyers do that.

The company provides software to archive e-mails - EAS for inhouse use and DigitalSafe for a hosted service - and software for litigation support databases - Introspect.

These are good times for Zantaz. To accompany existing offices in Pleasanton (CA), Boston (Mass) and Ottawa, it's just opened an office in London's Gherkin building, not the lowest-cost real estate in town. But then Zantaz has been growing enormously. From 2001 to 2005 Zantaz saw revenues increase over 3,500 percent.

This content archiving and electronic discovery company has been named to Deloitte's Technology Fast 50 Program for Silicon Valley. The average increase in revenues among companies who made the Technology Fast 50 for this region was 1,464 percent.

In the UK the biggest growth is in the archiving side.

All the Zantaz product functionality is available in product form or through a software-as-a-service model. It's also possible to mix the product and service-delivered elements in a hybrid model.

Convergence

At the 28th floor offices in the Gherkin, I talked to Glenn Perachio, Zantaz' sales director for Europe. Here's what he said:

"Content archiving and electronic discovery are converging." Business needs to archive information like e-mails so that it can respond to discovery requests in a time limit.

"One of the main drivers for archiving is disclosure readiness. This is not a core concern for enterprises. Pushing it off to a reputable third-party is seen as a huge advantage. Zantaz has data centres that run Digital Safe. The managed service uptake has been fantastic."

New regulations affecting banks in 2007 are coming in that will means: "Banks are going to have to be more transparent in their transactions and regulators could request information more quickly."

Email deletion

One general effect of all the regulations is that companies are trying to restrict email use by their staff. They are also finding it necessary to think seriously about what can and what cannot be deleted.

It's about what you keep and what you don't keep. "There need to be policies determining what to keep. The archive has to be flexible and searchable and is discoverable itself. It can contain any digital content."

"You can't keep everything. There have to be policies to define what you can delete, also proactive policies to say what can be e-mailed to whom are becoming more common."

Mike Gaines, a Zantaz product manager, said: "People want to be selective in what they retain. It was difficult to draw the line between what they receive and what they keep. Intelligent content analysis can be used to say what you can delete. But you have to err on the safe side. Once an email is sent it exists. It can be a smoking gun in litigation or compliance. It's not a safe policy to be very aggressive in deletion."

"If you receive a recovery request and the company is seen to be deleting information after that then that company is legally liable; it is an admission of guilt."

"Whatever the deletion policies are you have to be able to change them. That means central control. You can't do it if policy control is distributed. You have to have defensible policies to mitigate risk."

Introspect and content investigation

Introspect is used primarily for document review (as in Word, PowerPoint, Exchange, etc.). There are different tools for transaction data review (as in SAP, Oracle, etc. database transactions). Perachio said: "We're looking more at unstructured content. The biggest task for a lawyer is understanding the dialogue around transactions. Increasingly it's email and other electronic documents and no longer paper."

"Introspect can review threads of information and allow you to de-duplicate or near de-dupe data" (meaning single instance storage).

Introspect uses the idea of a main or master pivot document and near copies or de-dupes with a weighting factor. So you could find out that document B is, say, 87 percent similar to document A whereas Document C is only 15 percent similar, ergo it is a different thread.

"This goes well beyond electronic document search and a basic tagging capability. Introspect can deal with hundreds of millions of pages. It can hugely increase lawyers' productivity; they are expensive people."

You don't want, Perachio pointed out, £500/hour lawyers reading documents that are almost complete copies of other documents. You want them reading the unique documents so they can follow connected electronic threads of discourse. Zantaz products have been used in very prominent UK fraud cases by lawyers: "Our expertise is high; we've worked on the most important corporate law cases. They're the ones you read about in the Times, the FT and the Wall Street Journal," not that he would name them.

Zantaz legal clients include: "Four of the magic circle (law) firms in London, also large government prosecuting authorities in the UK that deal with fraud."

It's ironic indeed that the more Zantaz archive products are used by business the better Zantaz electronic discovery products can work with them and make the lawyers more effective; convergence indeed.

Discovery

Perachio makes the point that good archiving and legal discovery tools can limit a business' expense in a legal discovery case by better defining what's pertinent and what is proportionate in a case. Neither side of an e-discovery process want to be overwhelmed by millions of documents to check when thousands are all that is required.

"Discovery has to start at the archive. Disclosure in the US is just rampant and massive. Obviously e-discovery is coming over here. The primary difference in the law here relates to what's proportionate. You can't go on a legal fishing expedition here."

"For IT proportionality affects how hard it is to get the information. It is generally disproportionate for prosecutors to ask the defence to reveal information on backup tapes."

"An archive can be searched to give you an idea of the (document) corpus size. If it is 100,000 documents then you can say it's disproportionate and start negotiating the proportionality of the request. Use the archive to cull it down and put the result in Introspect so the lawyers' fees are driven down."

The lawyers need a litigation database with the risk of data loss or alteration - spoiliation - minimised. Perachio said: "We're working hard to make it easier and more painless by shooting archive data over to litigation-ready Introspect."

Because of this you have to pay a third-party bureau to build a litigation database collection of your electronic documents, which adds more to the cost and time involved in dealing with a discovery request. "It's better to have an automatic solution that manages the chain of documents. This enables you to be proactive rather than reactive."