2012 – Year of the Cloud for law firms?
by Kamran Maqbool of Green Cloud Hosting, www.greencloudhosting.co.uk
We can all agree that Cloud Computing is here but what do law firms need to know about the cloud? This quick guide should provide a few pointers to look out for. The business benefits of Cloud Computing have been highly documented such as cost savings, business flexibility, increased security and basically pay as you go, hassle free IT. But what next? This brief guide should give you a few things to think about before moving to a Cloud solution.
Sit down and have a think
With companies, IT managers and directors now gaining a better understanding of the full business benefits of Cloud Computing it’s now more when rather than if to implement a Cloud solution.
Before signing any Cloud Computing contract, or even, renewing the on-premise IT agreement, an IT head should sit down with his team to understand the benefits and total cost of the IT department to the business, and compare his current solution to a Cloud-based alternative.
With this in mind we thought it would be great to provide a few insider tips on Cloud Computing and your business.
Have a plan
Cloud computing is quickly becoming one of the hottest technologies for IT across all sizes of business, with a growing number of companies looking to the Cloud to simplify and streamline their technology. Jumping in with both feet isn’t always the best approach. You must have a plan or roadmap right from the start to ensure the business is getting the most out of the solution whilst reducing risk.
Software and hardware costs
When running an IT department on premise, the IT head has to not only take the IT hardware and infrastructure purchasing and installation costs into account, but also the on-going maintenance costs, which can be substantial.
As an example of these costs just think about the prospect of replacing a number of large servers on-premise. I think we are all in agreement that this would be a considerable upfront cost; this in turn will affect a business’s cash flow.
Using a Cloud service provider to replace the hardware and software requirement would not only reduce the initial cash outlay; the business would also benefit from always having the latest software version, top of the range IT resources, facilities, infrastructure and virtual hardware that would ordinarily be only available to the top companies in the UK.
New methods of business communication
The new generation of staff entering the world of business are so used to different forms of communication in their personal lives with services like Skype and MSN Messenger that they now expect it within a business, and why not?
This new breed of staff is not simply constrained to email and the desk phone. To make the most of your company’s communication the Cloud services on offer provide a much richer experience than simply email and voice. Video calling, instant messaging, conference calling and presence is now becoming the norm of how to communicate so why not embrace this new technology to benefit your business?
Employee flexibility and inter business communication response times can be increased and this new technology enables your staff to communicate better and more effectively.
Sharing is caring
Share your employee’s knowledge and let them work together on documents no matter where they are. With a Cloud Solution the sharing of documents leads directly to collaborating on documents.
To many users, this is one of the most important advantages of Cloud computing—multiple users can collaborate easily on documents and projects. Because the documents are hosted in the Cloud, not on individual computers, all you need is a computer with an Internet connection, and you’re collaborating.
Flexible working and staff mobility
Ever get home from work and realise that you left an important document at the office? Forget to take a file with you on the road? That’s not a problem with Cloud Computing, because you don’t take your documents with you. Instead, they stay in the Cloud, and staff can access them whenever they have a computer and an Internet connection.
All your documents are instantly available from wherever you are. With this in mind staff can work from virtually anywhere and still have access to the resources they would normally have sat behind the desk at work.
The next step
When you have researched into what could potentially be moved to the Cloud and you are sure that it’s the right solution for the business, you then need to find a provider and the best way to make the move with little disruption.
For our customers a Cloud transition workshop has worked well. What better way than to sit down with experts and gain a deeper understanding of how to roll out your plan. Others prefer to take complete control and manage the transition themselves.
Whichever way you go, you need to ensure it creates as little disruption as possible. The provider should give you the guaranteed uptime of the solution and also inform you of exactly where your data is kept. Is it in the UK or elsewhere? How does this affect your legal responsibilities or sector specific standards?
Now this is only what WE think is best practice! Your chosen provider should focus on optimising and supporting your solution after deployment. Their approach to service delivery should ensure they reliably meet the needs of your business. A UK based service desk that provides comprehensive support and a single point of contact is a must, with the expertise to fault find and resolve any issues across all products and technologies.