October 21, 2014
The one thing everyone agrees on about cloud computing is this: No two people define “the cloud” the same way. However, most experts agree that cloud computing is a way to leverage shared resources (servers, storage, software, networking and physical data centers) among a group of users, allowing fast provisioning of computing power on an as-needed basis.
So, when do you choose the public cloud (Amazon EC3, Microsoft Azure) and when do you opt for an offering like Abacus Private Cloud (APC?) Here are a few things to think about.
Governance, Compliance and Security:
First and foremost comes the sanctity of the information that powers your practice. Matter and client information needs to be secure, kept from prying eyes and most importantly, kept safely under the auspices of US-based service providers to ensure compliance with federal regulations. Since virtually every major public cloud provider copies your data to servers beyond U.S. borders, those organizations are by definition out of compliance with the regulations most important to data safeguarding. Private clouds such as Abacus Private Cloud (APC) guarantees that all your information is kept securely and encrypted within the United States to prevent data loss or malicious access.
Maintenance and Patching:
Public cloud providers offer “Infrastructure as a Service” or “Platform as a Service”, which replaces the servers on your premises with the equivalent virtual server hardware that you pay for on a subscription basis. However, you still need to ensure all the latest software and operating system patches are applied, that your database integrates with your applications, and that all the moving pieces work together. When they don’t, it’s your responsibility to get it all working together again. When you choose a private cloud service like APC and your cloud provider takes on the onus of system upkeep, it frees you and your IT staff (if any) to focus on adding bottom-line value to the firm.
Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity:
Sometimes referred to as BC/DR, these four letters refer to the ability to survive a catastrophe that takes your primary office (or data center) offline. Again, with most public cloud providers there is a backup – but often times it’s offshore. What’s the backup and restoration policy? With the public cloud, it’s at the cloud provider’s discretion. Private clouds like APC offer continuous backup of all your information and programs to another US-based data center with automatic failover. What that means is simply this: No disaster at any APC site will bring your systems down as failover to the APC backup site is fast and automatic.
Service Level Agreements and Uptime:
Public cloud provider service level agreements vary widely, most often offering “three nines” or 99.9% uptime. Sounds great, but that still works out to nearly nine hours of downtime a year! Of course, those nine hours invariably are the nine most important hours you can imagine! On the other hand, APC boasts 99.999% uptime, or “five nines”, the holy grail of performance guarantees. Instead of nine hours a year, 99.999% translates to 5 ¼ minutes a year – but as of this writing the total downtime since launch of APC has totaled exactly zero.
There’s no doubt that you can rent raw compute, storage and network resources from a public cloud provider very inexpensively. Of course you then have to integrate all the other pieces – practice management, accounting, database, client management, productivity to name just a few, to yield the complete package or suite of applications that firms need to keep their practice humming along.
For most firms, choosing private cloud services like APC can save money by providing a completely integrated environment complete with office productivity applications that let you integrate AbacusLaw or any other practice management product, Xero, Quickbooks, Adobe or any other application, and create the exact software suite you want to drive your practice to new levels of efficiency.
Is APC the most efficient way for your firm to enter the cloud computing age? Give a call to find out more: 1-800-726-3339