Indexing of tape backups?

Today at a local ILTA event, I saw a presentation about a company called Index Engines. They built enterprise search appliances, and one of their big sales pitches to the legal industry is that they can index from tape backups. This is somewhat huge. As it stands now, to do electronic discovery on data that is on tape, you have to restore the tape to disk, then search the contents of the tape from the disk to find the relevant data. Do this for enough tapes, and you can see where this restore then search work gets quite expensive. (I’m sure you can imagine a large company with 1,000 or more tapes in an archive trying to locate a small amount of information that may exist on those tapes!)

This is where this company’s appliance comes in. It can hook to your tapes and index them without having to restore them, then you can do a quick Google-like search for the relevant data and only restore the data you are going to need. Now, this could be a big time and money saver for e-discovery, for sure, but it’s not exactly a cheap option. For a mid-sized firm like ours, I have to think it’d be outside of or budget range. On the other hand they are selling the technology to some EDD vendors, which may be something we would look for if it ever came down to needing to search backup tapes for relevant data.

The really interesting thing about this technology, of course, is that I’ve been hearing over and over how tape backups are generally considered inaccessible for the purposes of e-discovery in the courts because of the high costs, except in cases where the data is that important to getting to the truth that the cost is worth it. As technology makes it easier, and cheaper to do, I wonder how quickly that equation will swing the other direction, toward tape backups being accessible and required?

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