What I Like About CloudNine
An eDiscovery Platform Review by Tom O’Connor*
In my 30 plus years of experience as a consultant, author, and speaker in the field of automated litigation support systems, I’ve used almost every software program deployed for the litigation market. And I’ve also reviewed many them, beginning with my days in the 80’s working with the late Dick Robbins and eventually, after his untimely death, taking over the writing of his book The Automated Law Firm (ALF).
If I were rating CloudNine on the combined ALF scoring system, it would get a 9.9 out of 10. (see the rating chart at the end of this review). I love this product and I’ll tell you why but before I do I’ll give some background on the software and its parent company, followed by a synopsis of my review findings and finally a little deeper look at some of the specific features.
Also, I should note that while I have done work as a consultant for CloudNine, the observations in this review reflect my professional opinion as one who has used and advised clients on the use of similar tools for eDiscovery and may or may not be those of the CloudNine Team.
- Platform Category: CloudNine is an eDiscovery product in the Cloud Platform category.
- Platform Description: CloudNine is an integrated, automated proprietary software offering which allows users to immediately upload, review, and produce electronic documents.
- Platform Technology: CloudNine is a secure, web-accessible, SaaS-delivered offering that allows immediate use of ESI without additional downloads or implementation steps.
- Company Providing Platform: CloudNine is owned by the company of the same name which was founded in 2002. Based in Houston, Texas, CloudNine is a legal intelligence technology company with deep expertise in the analysis, processing, and review of electronically stored information (ESI).
What I like most about CloudNine is its ease of use. A new user can literally login, set up an account, point to a set of data and begin working within 5 minutes. The free 30-day account sign-up combined with the automatic ingestion, processing, and conversion into a usable format for review make this the easiest program to set up and use I have ever come across.
Additionally, that usability makes CloudNine an effective tool for a variety of legal tasks. In addition to law firms and legal departments, CloudNine can also be used by businesses and corporate departments as diverse as Human Resources, Finance, Compliance and IT to handle tasks ranging from 2nd requests to internal investigations and even audits.
Also important is the transparent and flexible pricing (more on that below) which means CloudNine is within reach of not just large firms and corporate legal departments but also small firms and even solo practitioners.
Finally, when I do a software review I’m often asked to describe what I think are the best-kept secrets about the product. I don’t think the following are secrets per se because the people at CloudNine do discuss them. Rather, I like to think of them as observations from the 40,000-foot flight level which sometimes get overlooked because we are busy discussing features at the 12,000-foot level.
- Predictable Pricing. Once you sign up and a select a plan, the pricing is given to you. That pricing is based on data volume, with unlimited users. No additional fees, module downloads or other hidden costs.
- Outpost for Relativity. An automated data loading service for Relativity that automatically ingests and loads data into Relativity based on your specified criteria. It will collect, filter, cull, and tag data prior to moving it into Relativity and can even migrate legacy data from alternative eDiscovery platforms into Relativity.
- Free Early Data Assessment (EDA). Before the meter starts running on your collection, you get a comprehensive view of the content and context of your data.
This free EDA service helps you begin to accurately estimate discovery scope and cost, all at no monetary cost.
- New Targeted Preservation and Collection capability. This cloud-based wizard guided capability simplifies and automates data preservation and collection for corporate legal and IT professionals and is available immediately at no incremental cost as part of the CloudNine eDiscovery Platform.
- CloudNine also offers a complete portfolio of eDiscovery professional services including computer forensics, managed services, managed review, and eDiscovery consulting. These services are all offered at a reasonable cost if you need them.
As mentioned above, CloudNine is a totally integrated product which offers tasks across the entire range of then EDRM from Collection and Preservation to Ingestion, Processing, Review, and Production.
Automation of Processes
The CloudNine Legal (eDiscovery) Platform gives customers a SaaS solution that automates the ingestion, processing, review, and production of data.
- File Preservation Automation allows users to establish a rules-based identification of files that may need to be preserved for audits, investigations, or litigation.
- Collection Automation takes files identified for preservation and collects them into a user designated repository. This preservation repository of collected files can then be assessed and evaluated within the CloudNine Data Discovery Platform or moved into the CloudNine Legal Discovery Platform for policy, regulatory, or legal-driven review.
- Ingestion and Processing Automation allows users to upload data to a secure online repository in a private and protected cloud environment and have that data automatically converted into a usable format for review.
- Review Automation allows users to use advanced analytics and technology-assisted review to assess, review, and analyze data.
- Production Automation gives users the ability to create precision productions and privilege logs that are exportable into almost any form. This capability can be used at any point after data upload. into the CloudNine Legal (eDiscovery) Platform.
- Ongoing Preservation Automation allows data to be stored in a protected cloud data center infrastructure.
Standard analytics, such as dupe identification, domain categorization, and email timeline generation, are included in CloudNine processing. Additional analytics, including TAR functionality (clustering, near dupe and predictive coding) is available for an additional fee.
CloudNine allows reviews to begin within minutes of data upload. A full-featured review tool with advanced search and analytics combined with an intuitive interface allows users to quickly and efficiently assess, review, and analyze documents.
CloudNine’s fully integrated production features allow the creation of detailed productions and privilege logs which can be exported into almost any format. While typically used at the completion of a project, CloudNine productions can be generated at any point after data is uploaded.
Platform Implementation and Utilization
The CloudNine ease of set up and use provides an appropriateness and completeness of capability that makes an ideal solution for firms of all sizes, corporate legal departments, and even litigation service providers.
Possible use case scenarios include a wide variety of information technology, business, and legal initiatives including:
- Information Governance
- Internal Threat Investigations
- Legal Hold
- Electronic Discovery
CloudNine owns, operates, and manages a unique private protected cloud data center infrastructure in partnership with CyrusOne. Within this infrastructure, the CloudNine hardware, storage, and network are dedicated to the CloudNine application and complies with industry standards including:
- FISMA Compliance
- SSAE 16 Type II Audit (Completed)
- HIPAA Compliance
- ISO 27001 Compliance
- PCI DSS Compliance
- CSA Security, Trust & Assurance Registry
- EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework
- Swiss-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework
This approach is different from the completely public cloud approaches used by most eDiscovery vendors and it provides the benefits, efficiencies, and economies of scale of a public cloud infrastructure with the additional security of a protected and private cloud environment.
CloudNine is also on target to be compliant with the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) by the effective date of the new regulation, May 25, 2018.
CloudNine pricing can be based per project or by a subscription model of varying time frames. Regardless of the eventual choice, there is a free trial period which allows an immediate start to begin work on a project. CloudNine also publishes its pricing publicly and this transparent pricing can be viewed on the CloudNine website.
CloudNine provides free training and support, including an extensive online user guide, knowledgebase, and training videos.
Features I Would Like To See Added
Many readers are undoubtedly saying to themselves, “Come on Tom, isn’t there something about this product you don’t like?” Not exactly but there are some features I would like to see added and they are:
- Ability to review the full-text index: invaluable feature for a variety of search functions including Q/A.
- Load and search audio & video files. Searching the files themselves would require outside technology but searching the metadata would be a great start.
- Directly download excerpts from social media sites.
- More customization functionality (e.g., change folders on the fly). I believe this is on the development “roadmap”.
- Specific transcript management functionality. Transcript searching has become the Lost City of Gold in all lit support software.
- A simple outliner like a lite version of the old Lotus Organizer or CaseMap.
- XML “load file” capability. CloudNine can export to XML but import but would be useful as well.
- Presentation mode for use in court. CloudNine can currently export to a popular trial presentation software application but a simple presentation mode would be extremely helpful for meetings or unforeseen requests by the Court.
- Easier bulk printing/TIFF generation. CloudNine does have the implementation of this feature planned by mid-year.
- Full tablet functionality. Technically available now, just not officially supported, this is a feature most litigators would applaud.
- Basic case management capability. Not really within the scope of the application but an outpost link similar to the Relativity outpost would be a major bonus for firms working in complex litigation, class action or MDL’s.
As I said above, I love this product. It’s a great tool that can provide support for many key eDiscovery tasks and CloudNine provides you with the ability to register online without any outside assistance and begin working with your data within five minutes. Registration. No wait time, no project intermediaries, no process gates or hurdles. Simply register and upload your data directly into the CloudNine private, protected cloud environment and their automated processing will immediately begin to convert your documents into a searchable and reviewable format.
With a free trial period, free EDA, predictable pricing and web-based security, it is a great product and a great value. Too great a value, in my estimation, to pass up. I highly recommend you log in and see for yourself.
The Automated Law Firm was a comprehensive guide to law firm hardware and software first written by Dick Robbins in 1986. Dick had been the Director of the American Bar Association Technology Advisory Council ( the predecessor to the ABA Law Technology Resource Center ) before starting his own consulting firm, Law Office Automation Consultant. A good synopsis of the book can be found online.
I worked with Dick in the early 90’s and was asked by the publishers to co-author it when he became ill and then continue as sole author when he passed away in 1995. One of his features that I continued was a review of legal software programs. The rating chart was based on 10 separate categories, all scored on a scale of 1 to 10. I used an updated version of that chart to compile the score below for CloudNine.
THE AUTOMATED LAW FIRM SOFTWARE RATING
- Ease of Use: 10
- Customization: 9
- Regular Improvements: 10
- Sophistication: 10
- Help System: 10
- Back End: 10
- Annotations/Notes: 10
- Production Capability: 10
- Web Capability: 10
- Integration w/Other Products: 10
* Tom O’Connor is a nationally known consultant, speaker, and writer in the field of computerized litigation support systems. Tom’s consulting experience is primarily in complex litigation matters.