A deeper look into the cloud and e-discovery: some thoughts on CloudNine [VIDEO]

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Eric De Grasse
Chief Technology Officer

Angela Gambetta
Research Director

Catarina Conti
Media Coordinator


30 May 2017 – Over the last two months the founder/CEO of The Project Counsel Group, Gregory Bufithis, has been running a series on three subjects:

  • predictive coding faces the dreaded S curve (Part 1)
  • why the cloud is becoming a major factor in the e-discovery ecosystem (Part 2), and
  • the growing movement by corporations to bring e-discovery back in house (Part 3)

Parts 1 and 2 have been published and can be accessed here. Part 3 will be published next month.


The series has gone out to our industry list: corporate counsel, law firms, legal vendors, and technology media.  That part of our listserv now numbers 16,000+ subscribers and the response has been one of our best: 45.6% “engagement” (subscribers who opened/read the post) with about a 7.6% comment rate (we have received 560 comments … positive and negative). The response to Part 2 on cloud edged out (slightly) Part 1 on predictive coding, with a high number of readers noting “predictive coding fatigue” and “enough already with e-discovery’s one-trick-pony!”


One of the great things about working for Greg is we do not have to agree with him. He always says “if you do not agree with what I write, then challenge me. But back it up”.  Granted, we do not get invited to the top table events he does … the IQPC corporate counsel events, Georgetown Law’s Advanced eDiscovery Institute,  the Association of Corporate Counsel legal operations events, and the Consero events.  So we do not profit from the “war stories” and “lessons learned” on what e-discovery applications corporate counsel prefer, to which he is privy.

But we do have access to the basic research and analyst reports he reads, plus all the industry material he receives via his venture capital firm.

And although it is at the lower rung of the e-discovery information chain, we do attend LegalTech/Legal Week and our media team conducts video interviews with vendors, which brings us to CloudNine. Because, with all due respect to the guy who cuts our checks, we have a different read on this market.


As Greg points out, Relativity and Logikcull are well known and excellently positioned providers in the market and certainly appear to be well positioned for future success. We would, however, respectfully disagree with him that it is a two-horse race for future market leadership. We think it is a race with one horse definitely being a leader today (Relativity) with many horses in the race. One industry analyst who sent a comment put it like this:

In the words of the jockey that rode a horse with 50:1 odds of winning to victory in the Kentucky Derby (Mine That Bird), “you gotta be in it to win it.”

Many offerings have the attributes necessary to win it, and of those the fourth generation offerings (designed for eDiscovery, for integration, and for automation) appear to have the best odds for success. For a piece that puts this all in perspective we refer you to Rob Robinson’s Complex Discovery blog (click here).

CloudNine is one of those horses, not just by our own handicapping, but by affirmation from market surveys, customer reviews, analyst observations, and most importantly, customer acceptance.

Before we get into details, here is a short clip from our video interview with CloudNine (shot at LegalTech earlier this year) which will give you a succinct “what-we-do” about the company:



When we have examined these fourth generation providers, the primary question is the same: how many of them can compete in a long race? That depends on their staffing depth, their in-house technology or technology partnerships, their professional services  — all the stuff you need to enhance your ability to support and expand in the market. We did not have access to all the information we needed to address each of these elements vis-a-vis CloudNine but a few items stand out in several industry reports and material sent to us by a few of their channel partners:











    1. They have a full professionals services portfolio led by Doug Austin, somebody who we always read and somebody who is on Greg’s “E-Discovery Blogs You Must Read” list.
    2. They have an offering that meets self-service as well as enterprise requirements (no volume constraints at higher volumes).
    3. On their web site (here is the link) they note they have a private, protected cloud implementation that provides the benefits of a public cloud with many of the security benefits of private and on-premise offerings. Now, important point: 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. Also one of our cloud experts told us “it is also a very flexible and scalable approach. You can reach out at any time and tell a customer exactly where their data is – not only by virtual touch but with a physical touch as they know exactly where the data is located.”
    4. They have an extensive channel network as well as a strong direct sales infrastructure (and we imagine that this is why their transparent pricing is so important as it helps manage conflict with these two different approaches; we have more on pricing below).
    5. We fell over with this fact: they have a technology partnership with Relativity in that they are members of the Relativity Development Program and of the Relativity Ecosystem. What that means is it provides an ingestion/data transfer capability directly into Relativity for customers seeking that capability.

NOTE: we’ll have a follow-up post on kCura/Relativity at which time we’ll address #5 in more depth.

And much like Logikcull, CloudNine allows users to begin using the platform immediately and begin uploading data in minutes. To get started users simply upload data directly into their private and protected cloud environment and CloudNine’s automated processing immediately begins to convert documents into a searchable and reviewable format. This provides the speed customers want with the control they need. In fact, anyone can begin a free trial. For all the details, we’ll just refer you to their site link: https://www.ediscovery.co/landing. It appears to be without any pre-qualification, required business approvals, or additional correspondence. Take a look.

Ingestion is of key importance but there are two elements to ingestion that are often conflated: the technical element, and the business element. Just having the technical capability is important, but some firms highlight this as an advantage and then present business gates that make the process laborious. CloudNine ingestion is not dependent on pre-qualification or business approach. Anyone can try it at any time. And once in use, any customer approved user (role-based security) can access it at any time.



As Greg noted, some competitors are positioning themselves for small and medium opportunities and this positioning has less to do with market fit and more to do with the volume constraints of their offering. Just as one vendor shares that all GBs are not the same, it can also be said that not all positioning is based on choice, but may be based on limitations.

Also, as Greg points out, reviews of platforms in Capterra and G2 are important. CloudNine has a strong presence in those areas, just like Logikcull which Greg mentioned in his post. From a marketing perspective, the aggregation of reviews is not only a client advocacy affirmation exercise but a marketing resource effort. That is apparent by the number of reviews of Relativity in those types of platforms as we do not think anyone would dispute their positioning. Good marketing is … well … good, but we also  think the quality of reviews after a certain number of them vs. the quantity is the most important aspect. Check out CloudNine in G2 (https://www.g2crowd.com/compare/logikcull-vs-relativity-vs-cloudnine) and Capterra (http://www.capterra.com/electronic-discovery-software/compare/119899-142312-119810/CloudNine-vs-Logikcull-vs-Relativity).



CloudNine provides a full disclosure of pricing: https://www.ediscovery.co/ediscovery-software-and-service-pricing/.

We get it. The reason for the full disclosure (complete transparency) is the understanding that pricing is a key element in eDiscovery service selection decisions. One can assume their pricing is established on best practices for technology pricing vs. the traditional legal technology approach of establishing pricing solely based on what the market will allow. We have to assume this approach allows for very competitive pricing for the market … and appropriate business benefit for CloudNine. Otherwise, why do it?

We agree with Greg’s comment that different situations require different pricing. However, that should not prevent any vendor from sharing a baseline for public understanding of where the baseline for different pricing is founded. The transparent approach used by CloudNine re: pricing has received very strong affirmation by many in the industry.

One point we have noticed: some competitors started highlighting the importance of pricing transparency and when other offerings became pricing transparent, they have moved the conversation from transparency to the makeup of data being ingested. The reality is that customers are more concerned with effectiveness vs. a problem as opposed to effectiveness vs. another approach. Many approaches serve the same objective and just because a firm champions a high number of processes does not make their offering any more effective or powerful than one that does not highlight the number of processes. And without a definition of what those processes are and why they matter, it is only marketing with numbers. Said in a different way, if a customer only needs to drive from point A to point B, they may not need a Ferrari. But if they need the features of a Ferrari, it is important to understand those features and look for them in other offerings as other offerings may indeed have them also. Sometimes elegance of code is not necessarily based on how many processes were implemented, but how few processes were required to achieve the same objective.


Greg noted:

”My position is that it is the responsibility of vendors to articulate the differences and the responsibility of buyers to understand how capabilities align to their needs for each use or case. Don’t fall under the spell of the buzzwords.  Do your homework.”

We agree. And with the recitations above we have tried to articulate a few of the differences so our readers can make even more informed decisions on eDiscovery offerings and services. We really are not trying to do a “competitor to competitor” comparison. We are trying to to do a balanced and fair approach and provide our readers with a vendor’s product approach, with references.

Every provider we have mentioned and that Greg has mentioned have positive and negative attributes.  We just try to bring to your attention the provider’s capabilities and the questions to ask so that you can determine if they align with your needs.

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