By Legal Futures’ Associates The Access Group
During our Access All Areas virtual conference, experts Chris Swailes, Louise Abbott and Julian Purser delivered a session on the growing importance of cloud hosting technology for the legal sector, how it can be implemented and how we’re already helping firms with state of the art cloud hosting solutions. This hot topic has seen greater interest over the last few years as more businesses look to adopt a more digitally focused operations strategy with on-premise software diminishing.
We’ve also developed a Proclaim Cloud Hosting Guide covering everything you need to know.
Freedom to work where, when and how you want securely
What is the cloud?
Cloud hosting refers to on-demand computing resources held in a data centre rather than on an on-site server. Data is accessed remotely via a secure internet connection directly into the datacenter meaning it’s always available, securely protected and is backed up.
Cloud hosting vs on-premise
Even before the Covid pandemic, legal firms were looking for ways to work more efficiently and expand their Lawtech and digital capabilities. With the pandemic forcing the industry into embracing a remote working approach, law firms have found themselves faced with new challenges, but from these have come opportunities. The ability to be a more secure and resilient business, the opportunity to empower staff to work anywhere anytime and the chance to free your firm from the costs and hassle of IT.
To make the most of these opportunities, in a remote and flexible working environment, you need reliable and secure technology. Traditionally that technology may have been on-premise, taking up space, requiring maintenance and could lead to a multitude of problems or risks. Cloud hosting removes the need to have your own on-premise systems and remove the potential problems associated.
Benefits to cloud hosting
Security – Cyber security remains a key challenge for law firms and the sector is increasingly being targeted as firms hold large amounts of sensitive data and client money. The PwC Annual Law Firms Survey 2020 found that cyber risk is the second greatest threat to law firms meeting and/or exceeding their ambitions in the period from now until 2022, with only Covid-19 ranking higher.
With our cloud hosted software, your firm can benefit from more stringent security features while also allowing for flexible and easy access for staff. All your servers can be run on a secure environment hosted in a UK data centre, so you can have peace of mind that all your data is safe and protected against attacks. In addition to this, we use multi-factor authentication, when your users access the network, and utilise the latest firewall and anti-virus threat protection. If you have an on-premise solution there is the possibility that criminals could break into your offices, and gain access to confidential or sensitive information. During Covid, some businesses removed some of their IT security features as an easy way to enable staff to work remotely but that also meant easier access for cyber criminals.
Costs – You can physically save space in your offices which would otherwise be filled with large servers and cooling systems. Furthermore, the complex hardware requires significant maintenance and continual updates which again incurs costs for employing the necessary technical staff and could result in downtime. Some firms are already considering downgrading their offices, as the working from home culture has minimised the need for bigger offices. The average property costs, according to the PwC Annual Law Firms’ Survey 2020, for the top 100 firms equates to 8.4% of their overall P&L.
Cloud hosting takes that pressure off, automatically performing necessary updates and dedicated engineers are on hand 24/7. This allows you to focus on doing what you do best – delivering an exceptional legal service to your clients.
Performance – Performance is key, no one wants slow processing systems affecting end-user productivity or an app that doesn’t work seamlessly. This leads to demotivated users, poor experience and lost time which legal firms can’t afford. Cloud hosting will optimise the user experience when using applications and tools. At Access, we differentiate ourselves by basing the cloud technology on the applications, monitoring and tracking how they are used and ensuring they are meeting and exceeding our customers’ expectations.
Scalability – As your practice grows and evolves, you need a cost-effective platform that can support your growth. Our cloud-based software allows you add new users, increase computing power and storage effortlessly. On-premise network expansion incurs large costs for hardware and software installation and addition ongoing costs for additional staff or training to maintain new functionality.
Productivity – Cloud-based technology allowing for flexible working and always-on access inevitably leads to greater productivity however a huge benefit for firms is that IT teams can focus on business growth projects rather than setting up and maintaining hardware, patching software and other time-consuming IT chores. Freeing up IT resource could also allow your firm to focus more on the front end digital experience and functionality for customers rather than back end systems.
Reliability – do you want to keep operating and investing in a technology stack in-house that needs constant maintenance? Or do you want to join the digital workplace and revolution where everything is going to be delivered for you, with built-in resilience and regular improvements and updates? Moving to the cloud makes data backup and disaster recovery easier resulting in your business continuity being more robust as your data can be replicated at multiple sites across the network.
Practical steps for migrating to the cloud
Moving your entire IT infrastructure to the cloud can be a significant undertaking, and fundamentally transforms the way your practice works. Below are five simple steps we use to help our clients migrate to the cloud:
Survey – survey your current environment and understand your requirements
Server environment creation – we create a server environment, suitable to your needs, on our Access Cloud Platform
Access team testing – a copy of your data is moved to the new hosted environment for testing
User testing – your teams start to test and use the system before it goes live
Full migration – A copy of your live system is migrated over to the hosted environment, and you can now use your hosted Proclaim software
Also, depending on your needs, you can go for a phased or partial migration approach. Phased migration is moving your system into the cloud in stages whereas partial is only moving certain software and applications to the cloud.
Cloud hosting built for you
Our solution is built for the exact needs of your firm. This isn’t a one-size-fits-all platform, we take a look at what your requirements are, and build and configure dedicated resources based on what you need. Proclaim Cloud works seamlessly with our Proclaim case and practice management solution. You get more out of both when using them together, so we’d always encourage users of one to implement the other – reducing the need for a third-party solution that might not operate at the same level.
Find out more by contacting your account manager or download our cloud hosting guide.