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The Case for a Comprehensive Compliance Solution

As businesses continue to transition their workspace environments into the ecosystem of Microsoft 365 (formerly known as Office 365), the momentum to build peripherals around that ecosystem continues for Microsoft.  It can be confusing to traverse the landscape of licensing for Microsoft and what capabilities are offered natively, and where third-party applications that are leaders in the respective practices will be needed to supplement the limited capabilities that those native applications have.  And if businesses already have these third-party applications – such as Veritas – in practice, they may find many of the native Microsoft tools lacking in both functionality & experience from their existing workflows today.

Last year, Microsoft announced the retirement of Advanced eDiscovery 1.0.  Although a few Microsoft bloggers picked up this major change, it got lost in the pandemic response for most legal users.  Since 2016, Office 365 customers with the most expensive E5 license have had access to Equivio’s cloud eDiscovery capabilities by promoting limited sets of search results from Core eDiscovery to be processed and concept clustered. Microsoft’s legal department has promoted their use of this capability via white paper, webinars and conference panels. Despite active promotion, 95% of 200+ million O365 users are still on the cheaper F1 or E3 license.  10 million potential users translate to many companies that may have relied on Advanced eDiscovery 1.0 to search, deduplicate, thread, and export data for their counsel to review and produce.

Microsoft’s September 11 admin message (MC223426), “Retirement of legacy eDiscovery tools,” announced that all Advanced eDiscovery 1.0 matters and In-Place Holds were frozen on October 1st and would be deleted December 31, 2020.  They have also eliminated the management of In-Place eDiscovery and In-Place Holds from the Exchange admin center.  This forces your IT team to find other ways to manage internal investigations and rolling retention holds that many companies use to ‘journal’ email (since O365 does not support that function). You can no longer call up your messaging admin and have them use this functionality to search and copy messages to a discovery mailbox for your ad-hoc inspection. Several PowerShell cmdlets that savvy admins used for scheduled compliance searches or to set/release mailbox holds based on Active Directory groups are now gone. All of this is explained by:

“Because all of these capabilities (except for copying search results to a discovery mailbox) are now available in the content search, eDiscovery and Advanced eDiscovery tools in the Microsoft 365 compliance center (with improved functionality, reliability, and support for a wide range of Microsoft 365 services), we recommend that you start using these tools as soon as possible.”

While improved features are appreciated, these come with an enterprise E5 price tag and no migration path for your active matters in the Advanced eDiscovery 1.0 system. Core eDiscovery functionality is migrated to the new Microsoft 365 Compliance Center, but this is just a navigation change. Microsoft is forcing customers to upgrade from F1 ($10), and E3 ($32) licenses to the $57 monthly E5 license for most of this functionality. They have given customer administrators seven to ten months’ notice, but these are not normal times. Most company IT administrators are under incredible pressure to support newly remote employees and the surge of new communication/collaboration channels like Teams or Slack. Did they see the notice or have the bandwidth to work with legal to adapt workflows and procedures?  Even if they did, does corporate legal want to trust their compliance needs to Microsoft after this and pay the license ransom?

What businesses with sophisticated compliance workflows need is a mature, comprehensive compliance solution that provides self-service management of their data, investigations, legal holds, collections, review, and export/productions.  Very few market solutions cover the EDRM lifecycle within an enterprise environment.  Most archiving & legal processing technology was developed for hosting service providers who received manual collections from businesses, without in-house self-service technology being standard & native to the technology.

The Veritas Digital Compliance Portfolio allows businesses to capture their data, enhance the data with content enrichment, and then act upon that data.  Using Veritas Merge1TM, you can collect directly from all Microsoft 365 endpoints, including Exchange, OneDrive, Teams, and SharePoint, down to remote user PCs. Veritas Merge1 allows you to collect data from more than 80+ content sources natively.  The discovery experience, with the industry-leading Veritas eDiscovery Platform (formerly known as Clearwell), supports legal, compliance, HR, discovery, and governance requirements through an end-to-end EDRM workflow.  Veritas eDiscovery Platform gives you the option to search & discover your M365 ecosystem to take action upon that data, without the need to migrate the data or upgrade your license with Microsoft.  Explore the Veritas Digital Compliance Portfolio to discover how the company that brought you in-house self-service archiving capabilities almost 30 years ago continues along this path today to enhance your existing Microsoft 365 ecosystem!