Smarsh vs. Global Relay vs. Microsoft: Which is the superior eDiscovery solution?

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There are a number of eDiscovery solutions that come with robust search and filtering capabilities, but the most commonly used by financial services firms are Smarsh, Global Relay, and Microsoft. Registered investment advisors (RIAs) and financial advisors like you need eDiscovery tools to automate and streamline the data review process, making it easy to find the data you need in the event of an audit or investigation.

We talked about the email archiving solutions from each of these providers in a previous blog post, but in this article, we will focus on their eDiscovery features.

We at RIA WorkSpace have used all three of these solutions and can say from experience that they are all reliable platforms. However, we recommend Microsoft to the RIAs we work with because:

  • Microsoft is constantly innovating and expanding its archiving and eDiscovery capabilities
  • Microsoft’s archiving solution captures data from various Microsoft 365 applications, giving you a complete picture of your firm’s electronic communications data
  • Microsoft’s eDiscovery tools come at no additional cost with certain Microsoft 365 subscriptions

Still, we recognize that there are other solutions on the market that may be a better fit for your firm. Let’s take a look at what Smarsh, Global Relay, and Microsoft each have to offer so you can make an informed decision about which eDiscovery solution is right for you.


The Smarsh Enterprise Platform is a unified set of cloud-native capturing, archiving, and supervision tools that help you manage risk and draw insights from your electronic communications data.

Enterprise Discovery is the platform’s eDiscovery solution. You can use it to collect, preserve, and review all your electronic communications data, including email, social media, and mobile communications. It indexes all of your content and maintains it in its originally captured format with context, so you can be confident that the data you’re reviewing is an accurate representation of what was actually said or written.

The solution also touts extensive tagging and filtering capabilities and export options. These help you easily find the data you need, no matter how large or complex your data set may be. In addition, Enterprise Discovery integrates with Enterprise Warehouse and Enterprise Archive, so you can efficiently manage all your data from a single dashboard.

Global Relay

Global Relay Archive is an all-in-one cloud archiving system that captures, stores, and manages your business communications and other electronic data. It comes with a host of compliance-ready features, such as holistic surveillance, tamper-proof storage, and AI-powered eDiscovery.

Specifically, Global Relay offers Discovery-as-a-Service (DaaS) that can help you find, gather, and present essential records for litigation, investigation, and compliance purposes. The company’s Data Services specialists work with you to understand your specific requirements, ensuring that you promptly retrieve all relevant documents and information. Additionally, your search data will be sent to you in your preferred format and secured with minimum AES-256 encryption.

Global Relay’s DaaS offering is a cost-effective way to outsource your eDiscovery needs. This is especially helpful if your firm doesn’t have the budget or resources to manage eDiscovery in house.


If your RIA or financial advisory firm is subscribed to a Microsoft 365 plan, chances are you already have access to powerful eDiscovery tools. You can use these to search for, preserve, and export data from Exchange Online, OneDrive for Business, SharePoint Online, Microsoft Teams, Microsoft 365 Groups, or Yammer teams.

In particular, Microsoft Purview offers three eDiscovery solutions: Content search, Core eDiscovery (Standard), and Advanced eDiscovery (Premium).

  • Content search – This solution enables you to find content across various Microsoft 365 data sources and download search results to a local computer.
  • Core eDiscovery – Besides letting you run content searches, this tool allows you to create and manage eDiscovery cases and place holds on content to preserve data indefinitely.
  • Advanced eDiscovery – In addition to content search and case management, this tool provides an end-to-end workflow to identify, preserve, collect, review, analyze, and export relevant data. It also offers analytics and machine learning-based predictive coding models to help you prioritize data for review.

And because these tools are part of Microsoft 365, you can be confident that your data is stored and processed securely and compliantly in the cloud. Not only that, but you can also take advantage of Microsoft’s extensive support network for help with any eDiscovery-related concerns or questions you may have.

So, which is the superior eDiscovery solution?

Smarsh and Global Relay may have been the go-to archiving solutions for RIA and financial advisory firms. However, Microsoft is fast becoming a major player in this space with its comprehensive and user-friendly eDiscovery tools.

Smarsh and Global Relay both offer reliable archiving and eDiscovery capabilities, but they haven’t really pushed the envelope in recent years. By contrast, Microsoft has been constantly innovating and expanding its offerings to meet the ever-changing needs of its users.

In terms of features, Microsoft has significant advantages over its competitors. For instance, Microsoft lets you create company standards for data collection, which can be enforced across all users and devices. Microsoft’s archiving solution also doesn’t just archive email communications — it captures data from a variety of other Microsoft 365 applications, making it a more holistic solution that can give you a complete picture of your firm’s electronic communications data.

Finally, Microsoft’s eDiscovery tools come at no additional cost if you have the right Microsoft 365 subscription. And while other vendors like Smarsh and Global Relay impose usage-based fees, Microsoft’s pricing is transparent and predictable.

So, if you’re looking for a comprehensive, user-friendly, and cost-effective eDiscovery solution, Microsoft is hard to beat.

If you’d like to get started with Microsoft’s archiving and eDiscovery solutions, RIA WorkSpace can help. Our team of experts can guide you through the process of setting up and using Microsoft’s tools, so your RIA or financial advisory firm can compliantly capture and preserve all your electronic communications data. Contact us today to learn more.