If you are at all concerned about securing and backing up your data, then you should be equally concerned about archiving your data in a way that makes it accessible in the possibility — maybe not as remote as you might think — that you are suddenly required to produce some of it in a legal proceeding.
That’s the opinion of Milan Baria, CEO of Blueclone, a computer consulting firm that provides overall IT support and backup and which recently moved its headquarters from Forrestal Center to Carnegie Center. “Casual E-mail is not so casual anymore,” says Baria. “People need to be careful what they put in an E-mail, and also in instant messages and social media. It’s a piece of history.”
And, as such, it could also be subject to E-discovery. As Baria’s firm pointed out in a recent position paper, “in 2006 amendments to the U.S. Federal Rules of Civil Procedure established a definition of electronically stored information (ESI) and outlined the requirements for its preservation, making clear that failure to preserve and produce ESI is now subject to the same sanctions previously reserved for the destruction of other types of evidence.”
Moreover, small businesses “typically do not have a document management process in place. They often have enormous amounts of ESI stored in a haphazard manner, making the discovery process inefficient, time-consuming, and costly.”
Baria gained some insight into the complexities of data management in — no surprise — the pharmaceutical industry, working in the IT department for Lavipharm at 69 Princeton-Hightstown Road in East Windsor. At the time the European-based company was ramped up for an effort to gain FDA approval for a generic transdermal patch. (Once the FDA approval was received in 2006, Lavipharm scaled back its operation there.) “There were a lot of rules and regulations to follow and I had to maintain the IT infrastructure,” says Baria. “My experience was heavily influenced by all the compliance requirements.”
Baria got his first dose of emergency management in his hometown of West Windsor, where — as a high school student — he served on the volunteer fire department and was later elected president of the first aid and rescue squad. Baria, whose father is an electrical and mechanical engineer, started out at Penn State as an electrical engineering student and eventually switched to business management. His professional IT experience included a stint at Verio’s network operating center on Route 1, where he recalls the pressures of State Police or FBI subpoenas for computer records. He then ended up at Lavipharm before forming Blueclone in 2006.
In addition to coping with E-discovery issues, Blueclone offers traditional IT consulting services, including offsite back-ups, Internet marketing and search engine optimization, and help desks for companies that choose not to maintain their own IT departments. Blueclone support can cost from $29 a month to $199 a month per machine, depending on the level of onsite support.
With reporting requirements showing no sign of being eased, a litigious element always lurking in the background, and electronic data growing exponentially, companies can expect great challenges. Blueclone quotes a 2011 report from Gartner, the IT research company, on the long-term specter of E-discovery requests:
“The need to ingest, organize, search, and produce electronic information quickly for legal purposes has focused the industry’s efforts on creating software that can cope with the volume, velocity, and variety of data that lawyers must quickly sift and cull. The trend for increased volume, velocity, and variety shows no sign of abating. Increasing use of social media for business purposes, cloud provision of IT and the rise of ‘big data’ applications will add to the mountains of material that might be relevant to any legal or regulatory action. This will increase the challenge for enterprises as they seek to reduce the amount of data they produce to only relevant items.”
Blueclone Networks, 103 Carnegie Center, Suite 300, Princeton 08540-5799; 609-944-8433. Milan Baria, president and CEO. www.blueclone.com.