Macfarlanes is moving its entire on premises IT facilities to a dedicated, off-site environment split between two UK datacentres, having turned to data centre and cloud storage specialist Proact as its Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) partner after a four way pitch.

In a project that is expected to take four months to complete, Proact will provide a 24/7 managed service around the infrastructure. The deal, which was signed within the last couple of weeks, was led for Macfarlanes by director of IT Andrew Powell, who undertook a similar exercise while at Nabarro (now part of CMS), where he was also director of IT.

Powell said: “When we issued the RFP for this project we were very clear about the end requirements – uptime, system performance, business continuity, cyber security and so forth – but were deliberately vague about how we wanted to get there as I wanted to take advantage of the creative ideas from the shortlisted companies.

“In the end there were really only four organisations of the right size and culture that had the relevant experience and expertise to deliver what we need. The Proact solution stood out despite there being three very high-quality responses from the others. The team fit is excellent and we look forward to working together in the coming months and years.”

As to why the firm opted for dedicated infrastructure, Powell adds: “Right now at Macfarlanes there is not a great appetite for shared cloud services: service levels are really important – at this scale, and for this client base, there is relatively little cost differential between dedicated and shared infrastructure. The former gives us far more control around performance, encryption, changes and information security. Ultimately, that gives us greater confidence that the solution is fit for purpose and gives our clients the comfort they need when performing infosec audits.”

Many firms are in something of a hiatus where the direction of travel is clearly cloud but there are too many barriers to get there. Powell said: “Looking a couple of years ahead though, it is pretty clear that cloud services will be the norm for certain applications – Exchange and Skype are obvious contenders, along with DMS – and our planning, including our licensing commitments, allows us to move in that direction when the time is right.”

Proact works with around 30% of the UK top 100 and three of the top five and was instrumental in helping DLA Piper to recover from its cyber breach. It provides firms such as Howard Kennedy and DWF with both storage as a service, and IaaS to firms such as Taylor Vinters.

While storage means that firms’ infrastructure remains on premises, they pay on a consumption basis and have the benefit of an Opex model. Nonetheless firms are increasingly looking to move their “tin” off premises in order to free up resources to focus on other areas.

Jessica Edmonds, account manager at Proact in the United Kingdom said: “Working within the legal sector, I’ve seen a trend whereby law firms are moving to ‘as-a-service’ models, whether that’s for infrastructure or security projects. Many law firms are transitioning the way they consume IT and are improving the bottom line by only paying for what they use.”