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A frequently touted benefit of cloud computing is IT cost reduction for firms of all sizes. Some firms have estimated they can reduce their overall IT spend by a factor of 10 while gaining more ...

A frequently touted benefit of cloud computing is IT cost reduction for firms of all sizes. Some firms have estimated they can reduce their overall IT spend by a factor of 10 while gaining more agility to respond to new business demands.

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White Paper: Cloud Computing for Law Firms Document Transcript

  • 1. Cloud ComputingxRM4Legal.comCloud Computing for Law FirmsWhite PaperDate: September 2011
  • 2. AcknowledgementsPrepared for the IAPA Montreal 2011 Annual Conference, this document was developed withsupport from conference hosts, Demers Beaulne LLP and IAPA International and in directcollaboration with the following:Key CollaboratorsCaroline Précourt (Demers Beaulne, LLP)Louise Norbury (IAPA International)xRM4Legal.com ContributorsRocky Sharma, Senior CRM/xRM ConsultantFeedbackTo send comments or suggestions about this document, please click the following link:http://xRM4Legal.com/content/contacts Powered by Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, xRM4Legal is more than just marketing and Client Relationship Management (CRM). As a new and innovative marketing and business development solution for law firms and other professional services organizations, xRM4Legal offers the most complete set of solutions for marketing, business development and client care. Our comprehensive platform includes Web, E-mail communications, relationship and contact management, social CRM, analytics and SharePoint solutions. xRM4Legal is backed by a national and international team of legal industry specialists providing design, consulting, technology, implementation, hosting, training and ongoing support services. www.xRM4Legal.com Legal Notice This document is provided ―as-is‖. Information and views expressed in this document, including URL and other Internet Web site references, may change without notice. Some examples depicted herein are provided for illustration only. This document does not provide you with any legal rights to any intellectual property in any product. You may copy and use this document for your internal, reference purposes. © 2011 Asia Pacific Dynamics Corporation. All rights reserved.2CLOUD COMPUTING FOR LAW FIRMS SEPTEMBER 2011
  • 3. Table of ContentsPreface ........................................................................................................ 4 About the Author ....................................................................................... 4What is Cloud Computing ............................................................................... 5 A Little History ........................................................................................... 6 Typical Uses .............................................................................................. 6Types of Cloud Computing ............................................................................. 8 Business is Moving to the Cloud…FAST.......................................................... 9Why Cloud for Law Firms ............................................................................. 10What Other Firms are Doing ......................................................................... 11 Client Communications ............................................................................. 11 Messaging, Content & Thought Leadership .................................................. 12 Collaboration Platforms ............................................................................. 13 Partner Portals......................................................................................... 13 Client Management (Web and Outlook) ....................................................... 13 Outsourcing ............................................................................................ 15How to Get Started ..................................................................................... 16 Suitable for Small and Large Firms ............................................................. 16 Pricing Guide ........................................................................................... 16 Comparison of On-premise v. Cloud ........................................................... 16 Know your Desired Outcomes .................................................................... 17 Know your Firm and Critical Processes ........................................................ 17 Know When to Connect with an Expert ....................................................... 17Minimizing Risk, Maximizing Opportunity ....................................................... 19 Ready to Use ........................................................................................... 19 Understanding the Risks ........................................................................... 20Conclusion – Takeaways and Predictions ........................................................ 21 The Benefits of Cloud Computing are Clear .................................................. 21 Takeaways .............................................................................................. 21 Predictions .............................................................................................. 22 3SEPTEMBER 2011 CLOUD COMPUTING FOR LAW FIRMS
  • 4. PrefaceAbout the Author David Blumentals has 20 years‘ experience in IT and Professional Services. With a background in economics, finance and insurance David moved into marketing and business development in 1989. Since 1997, David has focused on the successful delivery of Client Relationship Management (CRM) systems, often integrating with Practice, Financial and Document Management Systems.After working with Epicor‘s Clientele CRM in the late 1990‘s and developing finance and CRMsoftware systems in the early 2000‘s David started working with Microsoft CRM 1.2 in 2004and Microsoft Dynamics AX in 2007. David continues to work today with Microsoft DynamicsCRM 2011 in both on-premise and hosted, cloud computing deployments.David has held several Director level positions with leading Australian IT groups. A majorproject was development of the BankNET financial management system and 2003 partnershipwith the Australian Taxation Office on their Electronic Commerce Initiative to test the processof electronic lodgement of the Business Activity Statement from a ‗Web environment‘.In May 2008 founded Client Profiles Asia Pacific, an offshoot of Client Profiles Inc, based inAtlanta Georgia. As a Microsoft ISV Partner of the Year and Professional Services Partner ofthe Year in 2009 and 2010, Client Profiles has established an impressive client base acrossAustralia-New Zealand including six of the top thirty law firms.More recently, David has established Asia Pacific Dynamics Corporation as a support vehiclefor both clients and Client Profiles implementation partners globally. He is also a director ofVARCentral, a leading supplier of hosted, eCommerce software solutions to IT Resellers acrossAustralia and New Zealand, www.VARCentral.com.auCurrent goals include ongoing business development and account management support in theProfessional Services Industry including ―x‖RM solutions for legal, accounting and finance –based on the new Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 platform.David can be contacted at DBlumentals@xRM4Legal.com or +61 409 245 354.Sydney – Sydney Wharf 9, 56 Pirrama Road, Pyrmont NSW 2009 AustraliaLondon – 40 Bank Street, Canary Wharf, London E14 5NR UKNew York – 1330 Avenue of the Americas, New York City NY10019 USA4CLOUD COMPUTING FOR LAW FIRMS SEPTEMBER 2011
  • 5. What is Cloud ComputingLet‘s start with a definition:Cloud computing is a complex infrastructure of software, hardware, processing and storagethat is available as a service. Cloud computing offers immediate access to large numbers ofthe world’s most sophisticated supercomputers and their corresponding processing power,interconnected at various locations around the world, offering speeds in the tens of trillionscomputations per second. Access is typically via an Internet connection using a standardbrowser.Cloud computing is as much a paradigm shift in data center and IT management as it is aculmination of IT‘s capacity to drive business forward. It can be more simply defined as ―just-in-time provisioning and scaling of services on shared hardware.‖ But really, it‘s anopportunity to completely transform how your firm and its people work.The cloud makes it possible for firms to: Scale rapidly—up and down- as there are changes to staffing levels. Deploy computer services only when and where they are needed – necessary perhaps at different times of the year, during peak periods. Deliver rich experiences across the PC, phone, tablet and web browser – for when you are working from home or outside the office. Generate efficiencies and cost savings by paying as you go for only the services that you use – eliminating wastage for software and systems you might not need 100% of the time. Cloud Computing: A Logical Diagram; Source: Wikipedia 5SEPTEMBER 2011 CLOUD COMPUTING FOR LAW FIRMS
  • 6. A Little HistoryCloud computing has evolved through a number of phases which include application serviceprovision (ASP) and Software as a Service (SaaS). The overarching concept of deliveringcomputing resources through a global network is rooted in the 1960s.The idea of an "intergalactic computer network" was introduced in 1969 by J.C.R. Licklider,who was responsible for enabling the development of ARPANET (Advanced Research ProjectsAgency Network). His vision was for everyone on the planet to be interconnected andaccessing programs and data at any site, from anywhere, a vision that sounds a lot like whatwe call ―cloud computing."Other experts attribute the cloud concept to computer scientist John McCarthy who proposedthe idea of computation being delivered as a public utility, similar to the service bureaus whichalso date back to the 1960s.Since the 1960s, cloud computing has developed along a number of lines, with Web 2.0 beingthe most recent evolution. However, since the Internet only started to offer significantbandwidth in the 1990s, cloud computing for the masses has been something of a latedeveloper.One of the first milestones for cloud computing was the arrival of Salesforce.com in 1999,which pioneered the concept of delivering enterprise applications via a simple website. Theservices firm paved the way for both specialist and mainstream software firms to deliverapplications over the Internet.The next development was Amazon Web Services in 2002, which provided a suite of cloud-based services including storage, computation and even human intelligence. Then in 2006,Amazon launched its Elastic Compute cloud (EC2) as a commercial web service that allowssmall companies and individuals to rent computers on which to run their own computerapplications.Another big milestone came in 2009, as Web 2.0 hit its stride, and Google and others startedto offer browser-based enterprise applications, though services such as Google Apps.The most important contribution to cloud computing so far has been the emergence of "killerapps" from leading technology giants such as Microsoft and Google. As these companies havedelivered services in a way that is reliable and easy to consume, the knock-on effect to theindustry as a whole has been a wider general acceptance of online services.Typical UsesCloud computing is comprised essentially of applications running remotely (in the clouds, so tospeak) that would normally reside on personal computers and local servers.For most businesses we are already using some form of cloud computing. When we register adomain name or setup a website we are using cloud computing. The tools used to add andmaintain website content are most often delivered in the cloud. The same can be said ofeCommerce and email management systems. Many of us will have personal or family emailaddresses hosted by Google as gmail or Microsoft as hotmail. These are examples, and typicaluses, of hosted cloud services.6CLOUD COMPUTING FOR LAW FIRMS SEPTEMBER 2011
  • 7. Client Relationship Management or CRM is another example of hosted, cloud computingservices. Most of us will have heard of Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics CRM as leadingCRM solutions for business. Increasingly law firms are also looking to other applications in thecloud to support document, time and billing, matter and financial management.Internet search, Internet banking, computer gaming, social networking and Internet telephonyservices like Skype are all examples of cloud computing applications. 7SEPTEMBER 2011 CLOUD COMPUTING FOR LAW FIRMS
  • 8. Types of Cloud ComputingIn moving to the cloud, firms can choose to implement any combination of several cloudmodels. The ―public‖ cloud typically describes complete services offered by third-partyproviders where services are shared across a number of firms. A ―private‖ cloud involves firmsenabling their own cloud-computing capabilities on-premise (in their own office) or viadedicated hardware from a third-party host. There are three basic models in mind: A public cloud involves computing resources hosted externally and shared with other firms and dynamically provisioned and billed on a utility basis – pay for what you use as you use it – like an electricity power provider – you just ―plug in‖ to gain access. A private cloud is a set of computing resources that is dedicated to a specific firm, usually on-premise, in your own office. This is a popular option for firms that want the benefits of cloud computing but where there is concern about data security and control. A hosted private cloud has a dedicated infrastructure that‘s hosted by a third-party but not accessible to other firms or shared by other users.None of these models are all-encompassing. Part of the cloud‘s unique power is its flexibility.Cloud models are designed to work together, so you can use the right models for your firm aswell as for individual workloads. Cloud Computing: Three Different Models and Three Main Categories8CLOUD COMPUTING FOR LAW FIRMS SEPTEMBER 2011
  • 9. Within the cloud models, there are three main categories of cloud: Software as a Service (SaaS), in which users ―rent‖ access to software application functionality (for example, CRM and e-mail) over the Internet with the intent of providing users with access to new software tools that help increase productivity. Platform as a Service (PaaS), in which users develop and/or run their own applications in a cloud platform environment, with the provider managing the operating system, storage, hardware, and networking. The benefit here is rapidly developing applications and reducing time to market. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), in which users run all their own systems, including operating systems, etc., on a cloud provider‘s infrastructure. This is really about renting hardware to help reduce server management. A good use may be ―hot sites‖ designed to support high availability or redundancy in the event of a disaster.Business is Moving to the Cloud…FASTAlmost half of enterprises are expected to use some form of cloud computing by the end of2012. This is expected to increase to 60% for small medium businesses reflecting the addedbenefits of cloud computing for smaller firms as compared to larger ones.In a new global survey of nearly 1,500 business and technology leaders conducted by HarvardBusiness Review Analytic Services, the majority — 85% — said their organizations will beusing cloud tools moderately to extensively over the next three years. They cited the cloud‘sability to increase business speed and agility, lower costs, and enable new means of growth,innovation, and collaboration as the drivers for this fairly aggressive rate of adoption.Early adopters say that cloud technology has already provided them with real business valueand advantage, including faster time to market and speed to effectiveness, lower cost ofoperations, and the ability to acquire and integrate new operations more quickly and easily.These benefits are becoming more widely recognized with more than half of respondents(57%) believing that cloud will be a source of competitive advantage for early adopters, and26% describing their company‘s posture toward cloud as ―enthusiastic‖. 9SEPTEMBER 2011 CLOUD COMPUTING FOR LAW FIRMS
  • 10. Why Cloud for Law FirmsA frequently touted benefit of cloud computing is IT cost reduction for firms of all sizes.With cloud computing you pay only for what you use, as you use it. This is perhaps the mostcompelling of any cloud value message. By moving your business applications and workloadsto a cloud platform, your IT staff can instantly ratchet your resources up or down, dependingon the immediate needs of any particular workload. Some firms have estimated they canreduce their overall IT spend by a factor of 10 while gaining more agility to respond to newbusiness demands.With cloud computing you can also reduce the costs of new computer hardware. Placingworkloads in the cloud means those workloads no longer require dedicated server capitalexpenditure investments. While the cloud isn‘t free, running applications there allows you toreduce an application‘s server count all the way to zero.From a software perspective, users can get the benefit of all the latest software, share acrossoffices, even countries and access from home, on the road – anywhere there is Internetaccess.No matter what form your software applications take, the cloud can help increase your abilityto react quickly to new business needs while decreasing costs. The nature of the cloud meansyour software portfolio can quickly adjust performance up or down based on immediateworkload requirements – lowering your total cost of ownership. Your workloads canimmediately react to sudden ―bursts‖ of demand and you‘ll only pay for the resources thosebursts require as you need them. And the cloud‘s global nature means easier and morereliable access to your software systems for mobile, remote, and even temporary workers.This gives you much-needed flexibility in meeting new business needs and exploiting newopportunities.Cloud computing can also ease your management burden. If a new market opportunitybecomes available in another location, for example, opening an office down town or acrosstown, maybe in another state or province – this would normally require purchasing newcomputer servers or increasing existing capacities. That capital expenditure would immediatelybe followed by operational expenditures when your software systems have to be manuallymigrated there and maintained by your IT staff – a significant management task, oftenrepresenting weeks or even months of man-hours. But if your firm exploits a cloudarchitecture in addition to your on-premises private cloud, you can simply install virtualservers in the new location, complete with your software already configured to communicatewith your servers back in the main office. This is not only cheaper and faster than traditionaldeployment, but also much simpler for your IT staff to plan and execute.10CLOUD COMPUTING FOR LAW FIRMS SEPTEMBER 2011
  • 11. What Other Firms are DoingSo, what does this all look like in reality? Cloud computing for law firms?―On premise and hosted‖ refers to the location of the hardware server systems we addoperating systems and applications software to run on. Installed on top of this are the variousbusiness, productivity, collaboration and communication applications we use to run our firm –think about Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Office, SharePoint and SQL Server for ourdatabase applications. On top of that again are our day to day applications for practicemanagement – time and billing, document management and client and matter management.Social networking applications and services that support outsourcing of ―non core‖ firmapplications also feature.So, what are other firms doing in using cloud computing to support their businesses?The first thing we need to appreciate is that in a law firm there are four distinct groups ofusers, all with different roles and requirements: Partners and lawyers. Secretaries and practice group administrators (the ―support staff‖). Marketing and business development (BD) and, Information technology (IT).All of these very importantly contribute to acquiring and servicing clients, prospects andvaluable referrers. One of the big things these days is using cloud computing to help connectthe efforts of partners and lawyers with marketing and business developers. With these onlinetools, partners and lawyers have visibility into what marketing and business development aredoing to support their efforts. Marketing has visibility into what the client teams do to followup on the leads and opportunities they produce. Overall firm marketing effectiveness and ROIimproves because there is now a way to measure what works and what does not.Where this often starts is with online event and publication subscriptions that allow clients toregister for firm events via email and subscribe to newsletters and other firm publications viathe firm website.Client CommunicationsThe goal of each newsletter subscription, alert and marketing event is to provide what isknown as ―closed loop marketing‖. By ensuring that the targets, activities, and the results ofthe activities are related and captured in a consistent format, the entire firm can measure datasuch as: Number of opportunities produced. Number of pitches created. New assignments produced and revenue generated from closed pitches. Cost per marketing activity. Cost per opportunity or pitch. Cost per client. 11SEPTEMBER 2011 CLOUD COMPUTING FOR LAW FIRMS
  • 12. The ability to know what was spent on a newsletter, alert or marketing event and relate it tothe actual revenue that resulted is the essence of closed loop marketing. A firm with thisinformation can plan, forecast, and target more effectively. This information helps themarketing team assess the quality of opportunity and pitch sources and design newsletters,alerts and marketing events that produce better results for partners and lawyers with eacheffort.Messaging, Content & Thought LeadershipIn order to be effective and productive, law firms can no longer rely on just traditionalmarketing approaches – mailing lists, events and partner contacts – to reach new clients. Theyneed to make sure that they know how to reach their prospects, when to reach them, and howto be relevant to their specific business needs and challenges.The use of social media networking is great in helping tap new markets. What this is about isincreasing marketing and business development productivity by delivering relevant businessand social insights when and where you need it. It is all about reaching the right person atthe right time with the right message and some firms have been doing it for a couple of yearsnow. Cloud Computer: Examples of Firm Use of Social MediaSo many business developers just go to a website to find information about a company. Todifferentiate yourself, you need to bring more insight about their industry or their competitorsand how you can help them be more successful. It‘s said that even in B2B, business tobusiness, sales – people ―shop with their head and they buy with their heart‖. Saving themmoney or increasing their revenue are minimum requirements – winning the deal is about howyou relate to them better than your competitors, and that comes down to messaging, contentand communication!12CLOUD COMPUTING FOR LAW FIRMS SEPTEMBER 2011
  • 13. Collaboration PlatformsAnother, and probably the major, benefit offered by cloud computing is the opportunity tocollaborate.There is increasing emphasis on the need for collaboration – between partners and lawyersand clients, with referrers and other business partners. How do the cloud computingtechnologies facilitate this?I am someone who believes that collaboration—like innovation—is a means to an end. Weinnovate because we want our innovations to both sharpen and amplify our strategic intent.We collaborate because we believe that we can deliver more value or more efficienciesworking well with others than doing it all by ourselves. When firms decide what principles andpractices collaboration should be built on, there is no better medium for enabling them thanthe cloud.The world-class firms I have observed and work with make the cloud a medium for what theycall ―shared space‖. The cloud is where law firms can virtually interact around models,prototypes, or simulations of audit, advisory and other process simulations. Digital versions ofdocuments or dynamic representations can be tracked, managed, and evolved in theequivalent of ―client deal rooms‖. You see this done really well with firms confronting ever-larger data-sets of client assignments, documents or for analytics. Offering clients onlinecontent sharing and project management platforms also gives clients an alternative to phonecalls and e-mails.Partner PortalsCollaboration can also happen inside the firm – between partners and staff.Again, the ability to exchange information through the cloud—the fact that the standards andAPIs are public and accessible—make the economics of creating, sustaining, and exploitingthese shared spaces user friendly and accessible. This is so much more than just email andattachments.The cloud is a place for interaction, not just transmission; collaboration, not just exchange ofinformation.Just as we‘ve seen the commoditization of information technology with the influence of theInternet and digital devices of all kinds, we‘re seeing how the cloud enables a richer variety offirm collaboration services—that teams and their leaders can scale, as demand requires.Client Management (Web and Outlook)One of the more recent cloud computing applications to be embraced by law firms is CRM, anacronym for client relationship management. 13SEPTEMBER 2011 CLOUD COMPUTING FOR LAW FIRMS
  • 14. Many law firms, unfortunately, have a multitude of information silos. Information lives inpractice management and financial systems, sometimes document management systems andoften in Excel spreadsheets, Word documents and Outlook contact lists. The problem with thisis that it makes it very difficult to know who our clients are, how best to communicate withthem and often what to communicate with them about. CRM, at its core, is about providing acentralized database system – one ―source of truth‖ – replacing and consolidating existingdatabases. Lookups of clients, prospective clients and contacts provides greaterunderstanding of history, financial performance and known relationships leveraging theinformation in the central system.The ability to extend profiling information around contacts (eg. Organization classification,industry sector, contact hobbies/interests) results in better knowledge for law firm businessdevelopers of contacts and, ultimately, closer client relationships. Marketing lists and eventscan be more quickly and accurately defined.The ability to access and review client plan goals, opportunities and pitches ensures immediatefeedback on what current work/activities a firm is engaged in now by partner or lawyer; whatcurrent revenues are being generated from these activities; what future work/activities wouldthe firm like to be engaged in (again across the firm); what future revenue opportunities areavailable from these activities and what support is needed from marketing and businessdevelopment. Cloud Computing: Ideal for Delivering Cost Effective Client Relationship Management14CLOUD COMPUTING FOR LAW FIRMS SEPTEMBER 2011
  • 15. OutsourcingAlong similar lines, there are businesses appearing everywhere as outsourcers of legalservices to both business and law firms.Their message to law firms is a simple one. If you plan to grow your legal practice, now is theright time. With the option of legal outsourcing, you can do it with minimal risk. You now havea real opportunity to outsmart your competitors. You can do it without worrying about lack ofgood quality staff, escalating costs or spiralling overheads.You can just focus on adding more clients to your practice with the sound knowledge thatthere is a trusted team to back all your growth plans.How does it work? You just add clients and send us the details (often electronically). We will stay behind the scene to work on your client tasks. We will stay confidential and you will be the single point of contact for us. What tasks can you outsource? Digital transcription; Drafting; Court Filings; Settlements, Stamping & Registrations etc. 15SEPTEMBER 2011 CLOUD COMPUTING FOR LAW FIRMS
  • 16. How to Get StartedSuitable for Small and Large FirmsOne of the misconceptions is that cloud computing is only for larger firms. The fact is thatcloud computing is suitable for both small and large firms.For smaller firms they can get started with service plans designed for up to 25 employees.There is no requirement for dedicated IT staff. The cloud can easily manage all email,calendar and website services for a fixed monthly fee.For larger firms they can extend this to integrate with existing computing infrastructure and ITresources.Pricing GuideAs a guide to the type of pricing models available here are some examples from applicationsand hosting partners we work with.We might break these into three types – our desktop applications, our CRM and PMSapplications and our email / social marketing applications.Approximate monthly fees for desktop applications start at $5 per user. CRM and PMSapplications are typically more expensive at about $50 per user per month but maybe notused firm-wide. Email and social marketing applications tend to be a fixed fee per month,regardless of number of users.Comparison of On-premise v. CloudThe comparison below shows the costs normally applicable to a CRM – Client RelationshipManagement – deployment for 10 users. On the left side we list the typical costs of software,hardware and maintenance.Based on 10 user CRM system over 3 years On Premise CloudSoftware licences $9,500 naSoftware updates $7,125 naMonthly subscription ($50 per user pm) na $18,000Computer hardware (est.) $5,000 naAdditional software (SQL) $2,000 naSystems maintenance (est. 2 hours pm) $3,600 naUser training, help & support same same $27,225 $18,000Average cost per user per month $76 $50Time to install 1 day 1 hour16CLOUD COMPUTING FOR LAW FIRMS SEPTEMBER 2011
  • 17. The takeaway here is that a cloud-based solution can be deployed for $50 per user per month– the cost of a cup of coffee per day compared to about $76 when deployed on-premise. Thisrepresents a significant cost saving.Equally noteworthy is the time taken for installation. When deployed on-premise allow oneday. When deployed online the system can be ready to use in an hour.Know your Desired OutcomesWhen considering cloud computing, like any IT investment, it is important to know yourdesired outcomes and what we want from our systems.Are we looking to: Increase revenues and profits? Get better information about our clients, referrers, staff, alumni? Manage marketing investments better? Track business development opportunities? Measure performance of our practice areas? Gain consistency/repeatable processes across practice groups? Manage time and billing (practice management)? Track documents and emails (document management)?Know your Firm and Critical ProcessesWe also need to understand and know our firm and processes: What makes our firm tick? Are we doing the same steps each time? Do we have redundant processes between practice areas? What can be – or shouldn‘t be – automated? Will we have to change our firm to use these new systems?Know When to Connect with an ExpertIt is also useful to know when to connect with an expert.Not all processes are good processes. Sometimes it helps to have a third party provide insightfrom years of experience to provide an objective view of your world. This should add value ingetting the foundation built: Consider documenting marketing, business development and client care and fulfillment processes. Bring in experience of other law firms and apply best practices to all engagements. Determine needs for ―personalization‖ or firm customization. Look at training – for both staff, and management. Evaluate the costs of hosting across the different options.All this will help decide which cloud deployment option and application/s are best for the firm. 17SEPTEMBER 2011 CLOUD COMPUTING FOR LAW FIRMS
  • 18. Other aspects to consider include profiling the users by their workload needs and mappingthese to available cloud solutions. It is important to understand customization needs and ifthere are applications that need to stay on-premise and how much can be done with internalresources. Also evaluate the business case for moving to the cloud. This can include: IT cost savings and Return on Investment. Budget priorities and allocation. Streamlines software licensing. Reduced deployment backlog.18CLOUD COMPUTING FOR LAW FIRMS SEPTEMBER 2011
  • 19. Minimizing Risk, Maximizing Opportunity What this white paper has described is cloud computing as a global network of computers that connects most of the world‘s information via the Internet. Worldwide, every day, more than a billion people use the Internet to work, shop, search for information and entertainment, and communicate with friends and colleagues. Online it doesn‘t matter where we are located, because the Internet and cloud computing puts a universe of information, images, and ideas at our fingertips. We can communicate, collaborate, manage finances, staying connected with clients and contacts. The Internet has changed the way we work andintroduced new ways of communicating. It makes long-distance communication affordable andresearch efficient. How we learn, follow the news, share experiences, and entertain ourselvesincreasingly depends on being connected to the Internet through our personal computers,tablets, cell phones, and other devices.And, best of all, you can do all of this from the safety and security of our office or home, right?Well, that‘s the problem. These benefits don‘t come without risks. The online world, just likethe physical world, has its share of nuisances, dangers and risks.We value the Internet because it provides a powerful new framework for connection,commerce, and communication, but it also brings the outside world directly into our officesand homes. This transformation requires us to change the way we think about online securityand safety.Typically, when we leave the safety of our office or home and venture into the outside world,we instinctively raise our guard and become more alert to possible dangers. Once we‘re backin our office or home, we lower our guard and relax. Those actions are so ingrained that we dothem without thinking—but staying safe and secure online using cloud computing requires usto keep our guard up even when inside our offices or other places where we usually feel safe.Because the Internet transforms our computers into a doorway through which the world canenter staying safe online means using the tools that can help us control who and what comesin, and exercising good judgment about the people you choose to trust.Ready to UseThe main advantage attributed to cloud computing is that the IT service is ―ready to use‖. Inother words, the business doesn‘t have to adapt to use the technology.Also the cloud service ―consumed‖ can be scaled up or down according to need, all the timebenefiting from the economies of scale produced by a shared service.Lastly, different pricing models can be used by the cloud provider, including ―pay as you go‖ orfixed plans to suit the consumer. 19SEPTEMBER 2011 CLOUD COMPUTING FOR LAW FIRMS
  • 20. So buyers of so-called cloud services have made up their minds about the cost benefits ofeffectively outsourcing their IT resources and paying according to usage—but are the potentialrisks associated with this emerging business fully understood?Experts say the chief concerns around cloud computing can summarized under two headings:control and security.Understanding the RisksGartner, the IT research and advisory company, suggests seven specific security issues thatcustomers should raise with vendors before selecting a cloud partner.1. Privileged user access. Get as much information as you can about the people who will be managing your data. Ask providers to supply specific information on the hiring and oversight of privileged administrators, and the controls over their access.2. Regulatory compliance. Customers are ultimately responsible for the security and integrity of their own data, even when it is held by a service provider.3. Where is the data located? Ask providers if they will commit to storing and processing data in specific jurisdictions, and whether they will make a contractual commitment to obey local privacy requirements on behalf of their customers. Some legislation like Sarbanes- Oxley dictates how data is managed by certain types of organization for compliance.4. Data in the cloud is typically maintained in a shared environment alongside data from other customers. Find out what is done to segregate data. The cloud provider should provide evidence that encryption schemes were designed and tested by experienced specialists.5. Even if you don‘t know where your data is, a cloud provider should tell you what will happen to your data and service in case of a disaster. Ask your provider if it has the ability to do a complete restoration, and how long it will take.6. Investigating inappropriate or illegal activity may be impossible in cloud computing. If you can‘t get a contractual commitment to support specific forms of investigation then your only safe assumption is that investigation and discovery requests will be impossible.7. Long-term viability. Ideally, your cloud computing provider will never go broke or get acquired by a larger company. But you must be sure your data will remain available after such an event.20CLOUD COMPUTING FOR LAW FIRMS SEPTEMBER 2011
  • 21. Conclusion – Takeaways and PredictionsThe Benefits of Cloud Computing are ClearEnterprises around the world are taking advantage of the power, flexibility, and efficiencyoffered by cloud computing. In fact, a recent Gartner poll revealed that by 2012, 80 % ofFortune 1000 enterprises will deploy some form of cloud computing.However, we know that finding the right cloud deployment can be tricky.The reality is you don‘t have to squeeze your firm into a specific cloud box. The perfect cloudfor your needs can be designed by combining today‘s cloud offerings with your own current orexpanded on-premise IT infrastructure. You can, for example, elect to host some services –such as e-mail, client management and calendaring – in the cloud while keeping otherbusiness-critical information or practice management software on-site for maximum securityand reliability.Some firms might find a ―private‖ cloud – a cloud built with the firms own IT infrastructure, forits own use – is the right fit. With a private cloud, a firm enjoys many of the benefits of publiccloud computing, such as self-service, scalability, and elasticity. As a bonus they benefit fromthe additional control and customization available from dedicated resources.TakeawaysSo, some takeaways:Cloud computing offers greater efficiencies for business. Cloud computing is able to offer lawfirms greater efficiencies and collaboration around people and the software applications theyuse – CRM, social networking etc. The cloud can provide a risk reduction as law firms are nowable to align their technology consumption with their technology needs and dramaticallyimprove time to market. By working through the cloud, firms can democratize technology andserve as a powerful enabler to all – staff, partners and clients alike.Simply put, cloud computing brings to law firms a new way of doing business but there is anorganizational change required to make sense of the options available and the businessapplications to be deployed.Along with high hopes for the change that cloud computing brings to law firms, the cloud alsoplaces a great responsibility on the IT Manager. These people are now being called to theexecutive table to drive and inform the business about innovation brought about by cloudcomputing. We are early in this transformational journey and cloud computing is still in itsearly days. The partnership and IT need to form strong alliances and alignment to support thebottom line as delivered through cloud computing. Be it within the internal cloud (or newknowledge management systems), client facing and the social CRM that drives the firms‘ability to understand and interpret client needs, there are many technology and businessdecisions to be made. IT managers need to help shape the culture of their firms to ensure theright tools are invested in, ensure the firms‘ ability to use the tools is well understood, andperhaps most importantly, help drive the bus when innovation is embraced by the firmthrough best practice adoption. 21SEPTEMBER 2011 CLOUD COMPUTING FOR LAW FIRMS
  • 22. PredictionsIn conclusion, some predictions on how law firms might look in 2015: All of us will be smarter. We will do more work as telecommuters, supporting more outsourcing. We will see less computer servers in the office as we move some applications, not necessarily all, to the cloud. Unified communications will integrate a multitude of channels – from mobile to fixed phone, instant messaging, email, social networking discussions and so on. Tablets and handheld devices will increasingly replace PCs and notebook computers. Devices will become more ―interconnected‖ together with applications. Applications will have sufficient intelligence to make decisions, as assessed by the firm‘s CRM system. Software will help distinguish invoices, letters and other forms and route them automatically to relevant departments. Fast search and BI will be supplemented with ―predictive analytics‖ for ―crystal ball‖ like views on what is likely to happen in the future. This will be essential for making sense of the mountain of information that we will need to comprehend.22CLOUD COMPUTING FOR LAW FIRMS SEPTEMBER 2011