l love quoting the Bard because it’s so easy. That wonderfully prolific writer and thinker gave us so many quotes that can be stretched to fit whatever argument or position we advocate. But I’m getting off topic and that is a subject better suited for another section of this blog…
But what is in a name? in this case it’s Office 365 “eDiscovery” versus “Advanced eDiscovery”. In this post, part two of a three-part series, I’ll take a look at the eDiscovery features of @Microsoft’s Office 365 and what bumping-up to Advanced eDiscovery adds to the mix.
To start, I’m not going to pretend that this is easy. Just because the tools are all consolidated inside of Office 365 and accessible in one place doesn’t somehow make the eDiscovery process – or Office 365 administration for that matter – any easier. The tools are scattered across the Office 365 admin portal(s) with some features available only within certain Microsoft “SKU’s” such as the aforementioned E5 suite which, in turn, rely on byzantine product names like “Exchange Online Plan 2” to designate the eDiscovery products available to you. Or you can add products piecemeal if you don’t need the whole E5 suite by including, for example, “Exchange Online Archiving (EOA) for Exchange Server (plan 92c0a)” and/or “Office 365 Advanced eDiscovery (plan ce71c)”. I’m not making this up. In fact, Microsoft understands the complexity (and I guess it’s an open question whether it is intentionally complex) such that it openly advocates a path for existing eDiscovery service providers to become Microsoft Partners offering Office 365 as resellers and eDiscovery process consultants. But again, I digress.
Let’s break it down this way: most eDiscovery nowadays is primarily concerned with email and then with everything else. This is true for a bunch of reasons including (but not limited to) document volumes, relevance, and data structure. Microsoft coincidentally follows the same data bifurcation by putting all of the Office 365 data in the same two buckets: Exchange Online (email) and SharePoint (everything else). All but two of the Office 365 for Business SKU’s include Exchange Online and it appears that all of the SKU’s include SharePoint. (As an aside, if you were particularly masochistic you could add “Exchange Online (Plan 2) (plan 8cd20)” as a separate add-on to the two Office 365 for Business SKU’s that don’t currently have it.) The reason that this is important is that in order to start using the eDiscovery tools in Office 365, one must: 1) create an eDiscovery Case in the Compliance Center in SharePoint and assign an administrator for that Case; 2) Designate the email accounts involved in that Case and add them to the in-place hold feature in Exchange Online. Thus, Microsoft follows the same “email and everything else” structure by similarly bifurcating the eDiscovery approach in Office 365. Then, if you have purchased the proper SKU, you can proceed to step 3) use Equivio to identify duplicates, near-duplicates, thread email, and predictively code documents within your eDiscovery Case. I should point out that some features related to steps one and two above, are only available with certain Office 365 SKUs but the overall process is the same. Is anyone else confused yet?