Terabytes Became Terrorbytes

I had an interesting experience the other week with a law firm client and their corporate client regarding the need to process a vast amount of data and the associated costs with the project. It was apparent that there was a lack of understanding of scope and appreciation for the associated costs related to achieving their goals. In my opinion, the scope of work was further reaching than what was needed. I am not a lawyer, but common sense should rule the day over restoring data from an entire network that could amount between 400 and 800 backup tapes and result in a data set that could range from 150 to 200 TB of data, yes I said TB not GB. To put things into perspective, an industry standard storage device used in the eDiscovery business would cost approximately $100,000 for 38 TB of data storage. And as a rule of thumb, I always say the amount of source data you take possession of will increase threefold from start to finish as the source data is copied into our environment, processed, hosted, and eventually productions generated. So for storage infrastructure alone for this project, our investment would reach $1,600,000 and that does not include the actual working hours and royalty fees required to utilize and enterprise tools to complete the project.

The competing need was the law firm who wanted the most comprehensive set of data and the corporate client who wanted reasonable costs associated with the process. The process being the need for effective management of electronically stored information so that appropriate legal representation and advice could be offered.

What should both clients learn from this process?

  1. Know your scope of the project at the outset: costs and other factors may influence and change the scope, but you need to be flexible because proportionality (common sense) should rule the day.
  2. Have your homework done in advance of engaging an eDiscovery expert: legal should define the need, the client IT staff provide the required information, and the external expert will provide the guidance, options, and related costs.
  3. It should not just be about money: although the bottom line and cash flow is king to a business, the cost should be considered in the context of the need and balanced with the approach.

What was I reminded by this experience?

  1. Just as cash flow is ‘king’ to a business, scope of work is ‘king’ to mine.
  2. Educating clients to appreciate the magnitude of what is being asked is not always an easy accomplishment.
  3. It is a fine line to walk to strongly advocate opinions and best practices that are not being heard.
  4. Planning is just as important as execution


  1. “Educating clients to appreciate the magnitude of what is being asked is not always an easy accomplishment.”

    Just ask the firm to give you the $1,600,000 up front. Even though most lawyers suffer from a pathological fear of mathematics, most can recognize a really really big number when it is next to a dollar sign.