Year in Review: Big Data Trends

Big data—all of the electronically stored information being created in the enterprise, both structured and unstructured—has become a term ubiquitous in the media throughout 2012 and continues to be at the top of the enterprise’s mind as we close out this year.

For the past two years, we’ve asked a consulting firm, Strait & Associates, to help us understand how big data has impacted the Relativity universe. How has this trend been affecting our end users? The analyses demonstrated the following.

  • Comparing the 50 largest cases housed in Relativity, the median case size grew from 960,000 documents in 2009 to 9.2 million in 2012.
  • Comparing the 100 largest cases housed in Relativity, the median case size grew from 520,000 documents in 2010 to 5.9 million in 2012.

“With the massive amount of data in Relativity, we were able to conduct a few different types of statistical analysis, all of which confirm the big data trend,” said John Ferguson, vice president of Strait & Associates. “Through the normal course of business in an increasingly digital world, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that companies facing litigation are working with increasingly larger volumes of information.”

In a recent discussion we had with Bryan Campbell—a manager in the forensic technology and discovery services practice at Ernst & Young—he spoke about his organization’s big data challenges, how Relativity is mitigating them, and what the future looks like for big data at his organization.

He explained that Ernst & Young continuously finds new ways to sift through data on a global scale, as members of their e-discovery team reside in more than 65 countries, and they confront matters that span the globe. The logistics necessary to grasp this data are continuously tested.

“We’re working on a case right now; it’s a very large matter spanning 32 countries,” Bryan said. “It’s one thing with a couple million documents in one country—five to 10 million is big in itself—but then multiply that across 32 countries. What do you do? That’s going to continue to challenge us.”

Ernst & Young has customized Relativity to meet the specific needs of their regions. His team quickly and easily builds applications to manage tasks and information to better support large-scale review. This flexibility has allowed Bryan’s team to address unique challenges they see in specific data sets.

“I can get up to a 30 million record case in Relativity and have that in one workspace That scenario played out once in a second request with a large number of documents and nearly 1,000 reviewers,” Bryan said. “I think that’s a war story—being able to put 1,000 people into a single database. It’s a testament to Relativity’s scalability.”

It seems data will continue to grow in magnitude and scope as new data repositories emerge and collections increase. With what we’ve seen within the Relativity universe and what we’ve heard from our end users, big data appears to be an industry challenge that is here to stay. It’s exciting to see where it takes us in 2013.

“To continue dealing with big data, we’re focusing on its whole lifecycle, and we’re figuring out how to address it throughout all of our existing operations,” Bryan said. “We’re working toward not only having Relativity hosted in different countries, but pushing it behind the firewall for Ernst & Young to deliver the services and tie it into the natural company. We want to be plugged into it for better flexibility and less downtime when dealing with big data.”

As always, feel free to contact us at for any assistance with custom workflows or applications for managing big data in Relativity.

Posted by advice@Relativity on December 20, 2012.