To Host or Not to Host: This is the Question!

By: Jennifer Ryan

With so many variables in document review, the question of hosting has never been more relevant.  Data keeps getting bigger and the cost of technology and the staff to run it goes up as well.  To stay on the cusp of rising technology we have to look at all options and opportunities.  This is where hosting can save the day.  Companies like LexisNexis offer state of the art facilities with physical and electronic security protocols in place that individual firms could never hope to achieve.  Barbed wire fences, bullet proof glass, armed guards and retinal scans were only scenarios we saw in the movies, but they are the reality now with so much confidential data being housed in hosted environments.  Fort Knox isn’t just for the treasury anymore.  So hosting should be a no brainer when looking at these specifics so why isn’t everyone hosting?

There are several things to consider when deciding which option, hosted data or in house data, is the right choice for your firm.  You may already have a trained staff that is competent with your review platform.  The IT staff has your network security dialed in and you are confident there is a plan in case of disaster, whether technical or environmental.  So why send your data out?  There may be a lag in getting your data loaded.  You have to account for shipping or courier time to deliver the data to your hosting vendor.  When time is of the essence to prepare for trial or deposition, waiting the Service Level Agreement turnaround time may not be feasible.  If these are issues that concern you, maybe hosting is not the answer, or maybe hosting isn’t the answer for every case.  Keeping your data in house up to a certain threshold might be the answer.  If a case comes in with multiple terabytes of data, this may be more than your staff and hardware can handle.  The beauty of the hosted environment is the lack of long term commitment.  You can keep the majority of your cases in house and send your “White Whales” to a hosting vendor.

One other consideration would be the cases you share with co-counsel.  There are a few options with electronic review platforms for sharing data.  You can keep the data in your environment, but then have to give access to co-counsel on your network.  You can have your IT staff setup a Citrix environment that is isolated from your regular network, but Citrix access can be pricey as well as labor intensive for your staff to keep separate.  Hosting this one case allows you to share the data with co-counsel without opening a backdoor to your network.  It also frees your staff from performing any administrative functions for co-counsel.

Hosting opens the door for multiple scenarios to allow a firm to be nimble in their review of data.  So is the question really to host or not to host?  Maybe the better question is when do we start?