So Far, Yet So Near: Why Remote Desktop Systems Work in Legal - Part II: A Total Support Network
If your law firm maintains a physical server, your nightmare scenario is focused on its total replacement. That daunting prospect, if it becomes all too real, emerges as a critical fork for law firms. It is at that point that a decision will have to be made: Will the physical server be replaced? Or, will a virtual option be applied? A remote desktop solution offers an alternative to the traditional, physical server.
Last time, in this space, we addressed some specific advantages attached to a remote desktop protocol, including those related to increased mobility and flexibility, as well as the importance of maintaining a single, integrated database. But, there are further angles, directly related to the movement from an in-office physical device to a virtual interaction, that bear listing in the ‘advantages’ category.
When you move your desktop to the cloud, you’re not removing your reliance on access to a physical device. The use of a remote desktop application does not eliminate a physical server; it moves the responsibility for maintenance of that physical server from you to a third party vendor.
Aside from providing doubters some assurance that their data is not floating somewhere in the ether of ‘the cloud’ (which is a poor way to describe terminal services, that has, unfortunately, stuck), the core concept that a virtual desktop resides at someone else’s physical server gives rise to consideration of two distinct, but related, advantages for those law firms willing to make the switch from maintaining their own physical servers.
The most direct benefit is the removal of IT costs. If the maintenance of your practice desktop and all its applications has been farmed out, and all you need to access your entire law firm is a device, an internet browser and an internet connection, it’s likely that you’ll no longer need to pay an IT person to manage that arrangement -- or, if you do, the cost will be slashed. Think about all of the major tasks that your IT firm handles for you right now: creates work environments for new hires; eliminates work environments for released employees; manages software integrations; applies updates, including security patches; maintains a comprehensive data backup. When a law firm switches to a virtual desktop environment, literally all of those tasks are baked into the service agreement. There remains a maintenance cost attached to your subscription service; but, it will be a fraction of what you pay a dedicated IT person. Access changes, centralized updates, a disaster recovery program -- it’s all managed behind the scenes. Nobody’s eating potato chips over your keyboard any longer.
In addition to saving IT staffing costs, there are other direct and indirect cost savings that can be attributed to virtual desktop applications. Like, how about a server room? If you don’t maintain a physical server any longer, you won’t need to set aside an entire room for housing it. Ditto for the multitudes of fans that are required to cool the server(s). Virtual desktop systems are so simple to access that you and your employees will no longer have to mess around with jury-rigging front and back doors into your major systems that built off of prior iterations of virtual access technology; and, the interface is so clean (it’s your desktop: nothing is different that is noticeable to the user), that there will be even clearer efficiency savings post log-in. Add those efficiency savings to an overall cost savings related to a subscription pricing model that is more palatable in the long- and short-run, and the total cost of ownership for a virtual desktop system is likely to outstrip the total cost of ownership for a succession of physical servers.
The real question, then, becomes: Why even wait for your physical server to bite the dust? If you go virtual now, you can extend the benefits your law firm will attain from such an arrangement.