New Cloud Case Study: Outsourcing IT with WorkPlaceLive pays dividends at Alen-Buckley LLP

Founded by Oonagh Alen-Buckley in 1983, Alen-Buckley LLP is a modern law firm with offices in Wandsworth and Belgravia. Its experienced lawyers pride themselves on delivering practical, easily understood and commercially considered advice with openness and efficiency. The firm has a team of 10 lawyers and provides a range of legal services catering for individuals, companies, lenders and investors. It also acts for, and advises, high profile and high net worth individuals. For nearly three decades computing was kept in-house at Alen-Buckley until the advent of cloud computing made clear the benefits that could accrue from outsourcing IT to a cloud services provider.

What drove the switch to cloud computing at Alen-Buckley?

“When you know your server requires attention and/or renewal, it’s wise to start looking at ways to future-proof it – and, in fact, the whole of your IT,” says Toby Parker, Practice Manager at Alen-Buckley. “That was one driver. We also wanted to see if the overall cost of ownership could be reduced and if we could get better control of our IT spend year on year.

“We made those investigations but also wondered if we could enable more flexible working. The answer to all our questions was found in cloud computing. More specifically, we were attracted to the hosted desktops approach, because it would give us our familiar ‘desktop’ screen regardless of the device we would be working on.”

Seeking a provider

The next task for Alen-Buckley was to find a cloud computing provider and after research WorkPlaceLive was chosen because of its track record, over a number of years, in providing hosted desktops to SMEs. Hosted desktops appeal to users because they have the “look and feel” of office computers running a Microsoft operating system, with its usual icons, windows, toolbars, folders, wallpaper etc. The difference is that all software, including the operating system, is on a server in a remote data centre.

“Another consideration that made us choose WorkPlaceLive was our information and data. Would it be hosted in a secure, UK based data centre? That’s what we wanted and WorkPlaceLive met that criteria.”

Benefits and attractions

After using hosted desktops “every day since September 2015, when WorkPlaceLive migrated Alen-Buckley to the cloud, they are now an essential tool for us,” says Parker. “Apart from our general day to day operations, such as email and the standard Microsoft Office suite – we also have our accounts and specialist legal software on the server in the data centre.

“And, crucially, we no longer have to worry about backups or disaster recovery procedures because they’re now the responsibility of WorkPlaceLive.”

For Alen-Buckley, the main benefits and attractions of moving to hosted desktops are, to quote Parker:

– The trouble-free elements that turn IT into a service as simple as an electricity bill.

– Predictable charges. The pay per user per month cost model has no hidden charges, making a welcome change to the significant upfront costs involved in buying and maintaining new IT equipment and sorting out technical issues as they arise.

– The data is hosted in a secure, Tier 3 UK based data centre, which is supported by a secondary, remote data centre in case business continuity is ever required. Tier 3 data centres are designed to be robust and have extremely low down times – far lower than the typical in-house server in an SME.

– Business continuity and backups are simplified and managed by WorkPlaceLive in the data centre. For us, managing them is a thing of the past because they are included in the service.

– The look and feel of all our screens – of desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones – is the Microsoft Windows desktop that we know so well.

– Employees can work securely from anywhere at any time, on any device, even [or especially] if local services are down; work even without mains electricity if using battery operated devices. Being able to log in online from anywhere we want, whenever we want, has added an entirely new dimension to the way we can work. Put simply, we can now operate entirely flexibly in a way we could never do before.

Toby Parker’s advice for any firm evaluating providers is to choose a company that is ISO 27001 accredited, as WorkPlaceLive is, because it’s the recognised gold standard for information security management. “Every aspect of our cloud service conforms to ISO 27001, helping ensure our information is safeguarded to a very high level.”

A final note

In conclusion, Parker says he is “convinced by the benefits we have experienced that the cloud is where every business will be going sooner or later.” He advises “due diligence when searching for a provider, and select one that not only holds ISO accreditations but is also a member of trusted organisations. That should ensure their processes are of a high standard.”

He strongly recommends “checking references out and, if possible, talking to some current customers to get a real feel for the provider you are engaging with. And ensure it has a secondary data centre to help guarantee business continuity if required, and that ongoing support is included in the cost.”

As for the initial wish by Alen-Buckley to get a better grip on costs and reduce the overall cost of ownership, “that is bearing fruit”, Parker says. “We have a complete lock on costs and they have gone down.”