In this digital age, firms of all sizes embrace the cloud. Cloud-based platforms offer major advantages for attorneys in terms of case management, security, reduced up-front costs and mobility. However, not all cloud platforms are created equal and firms need to find the right vendor to work with to fit their specific needs.
Public vs Private Cloud: Which is Right for You?
A public cloud is a platform provided by a third party who makes resources, such as applications and storage, available to many organizations (law firms) at once, over the Internet. The term private cloud, refers to a cloud computing platform that provides the mobility and efficiency of a public cloud while built on an infrastructure dedicated exclusively to one firm. Private clouds remove a number of concerns regarding public cloud computing, including control over data, security and regulatory compliance. For this reason, many law firms prefer private clouds to store their confidential and irreplaceable case and client data.
Security is Paramount
Security of your confidential case and client data is paramount. When researching vendors you need to pay attention to the levels of security offered. Who can access your information? Is there physical security as well as virtual security?
Backup and Disaster Recovery
Another important consideration when choosing a cloud vendor is the backup and disaster recovery policy. Are backups performed automatically to protect your data from a cyberattack or natural disaster? How often are they performed? You should make certain your vendor maintains geographically redundant backup locations to ensure your data is safe in the event of an unforeseen disaster.
Service Level Agreement
You should choose a vendor with a service level agreement (SLA) of no less than 99.999 percent. While other vendors may offer guarantees that sound similar, they're vastly different. For example, a 99.9 percent uptime guarantee means you can lose up to 52 hours of availability per year. Compare that to a 99.999 percent guarantee, which states you won't lose more than five minutes of availability per year, and you can see the difference!
Training and Support
To get any new system up and running, it's important to invest in training. Most vendors offer training with every new purchase. But it's also important to invest in continued improvement so your entire team can stay abreast of technological advancements and continue to improve. It's a good idea to look at your workflows throughout the year to find new ways to automate and increase efficiency.
Technological support is key to maintaining a cloud-based system. Look for a vendor who offers full IT management support so you can remain hands-off regarding any problems that arise. Other benefits of choosing a vendor who offers full IT management services include 24/7 monitoring, automatic upgrades and system maintenance.
If your firm is thinking about moving to the cloud, you need to research which vendor will provide you with the best product, services, security, availability and support. You'll also need to decide if a private or public cloud is best for your firm. Choosing the right provider will allow you to get the most you can out of the cloud.
If you're thinking about changing how your law firm operates, we can help you assess and explore all possible options with a technology readiness assessment. Let us help you determine if a virtual office or an in-house solution is best for your firm. In either case, we will consult and design a custom solution that we'll then deploy and manage for you so you can focus on what you do best: Practicing law! For a complimentary, no-obligation technology readiness assessment, visit Abacus Law.