Alextronic Discovery
Alextronic Discovery
An Electronic Discovery Blog covering News, Articles
and Thoughts for the Legal and Corporate Community Author: Alexander H. Lubarsky, LL.M., Esq. - - Tel. (415) 533-4166 OR 800-375-4222 THIS BLAWG IS NOT AFFILIATED WITH THE WEB SITES WWW.DISCOVERYRESOURCES.ORG OR WWW.DISCOVERYRESOURCES.COM

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Nix the OASIS and come to OAIS  


For quite some time, technologists figured that an island or "oasis" approach to proprietary data formats would be their ticket to fancy fares. This conjures up images back to the days of Apple and IBM each closing their OS and figuring that everyone else would pay to play in their gated community.

That worked for a while, but there is something about the collective demand of the consumer that resists being duty-bound to any given product or service. Essentially, a technology island or oasis stifled a free market and the folks at Big Blue and elsewhere could not change the economic laws of nature.

After time, open source format providers became the big winners. Adobe, for example, was free and could be viewed on almost any OS. Red Hat (Linux) was and is essentially shaeware on steroids.

Backup data formats and compression formats followed a similar historical pattern. The data archival enterprises figured that if the user had to own their suite of software to open up and view the data, then it wouldn't be that tough of a sale for 'em.

So, enterprises were forced to become brand/format compliant to access and review archival data. This, of course, trickled down to the attorneys of those clients and their litigation review teams.

Needless to say, this became problematic. Law firms were spending small fortunes on arcane data archival systems just so they could review a series of e-mail messages or that smoking gun spreadsheet. Electronic evidence vendors and data forensic consultants began to throw up their hands in defeat and pull out the checkbook. It looked like Big Blue circa 1985 all over again.

That was, of course, until a nifty little group of forward thinking individuals formed a group called the International Standards Organization (ISO). Not unlike the noble efforts of today's Sedona Conference Group, this crew demanded an open architecture and common standard so that the public would not have to endure repeated pistol-whipping at the hands of the data archival giants. The econcomic tide began to swiftly turn against those banking on maintaining proprietary data format "islands" and charging a hefty docking fee.

This new movement of open source is known as OAIS (Open Archival Information Systems). Today, it is the buzz word among a growing number of records managers as well as IT and litigation support professionals. It is what we have been waiting for.

Not surprisingly, the first enterprises to demand and receive OAIS compliant technologies include a variety of governmental and think tank outfits that simply cannot afford impediment to the restoration of their collective knowledge. Universities and corporations are following suit. In time, litigation support and electronic evidence professionals should be able to plug into an archived data set for processing and review not unlike one plugs in the hairdryer at the Westin.

Who wants to live on an island or visit an oasis anyways?

- Alex

posted by Alexander | 12:51 PM


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