Public, private or hybrid cloud: how law firms can choose the right strategy
By Peter Gill, chief commercial officer at Converge TS
Throughout this blog series on Public Cloud, I’ve covered the advantages and disadvantages, along with the myths and realities of utilising a Public Cloud option for your law firm. With many firms now adopting a ‘cloud first’ strategy, and with so many cloud options available, firms must ensure that the IT strategy fits in with the business strategy, therefore future-proofing their firm and driving real bottom-line value.
So, which cloud option to choose? Broadly speaking, there are three options…
Option 1 – Highly scalable: public cloud
Public Cloud is where a service provider such as AWS or Microsoft Azure, makes resources such as virtual machines, applications or storage on a shared platform, available to a public audience via the internet. You have access to an almost unlimited amount of resource which means you can scale up or down as necessary. At the time of writing, most law firms are not actively exploring the Public Cloud option but, for law firms who are innovating, it’s particularly useful for activities such as AI testing or business intelligence management.
Given that Public Cloud tends to be offered on a pay-as-you-go basis, it becomes a cost-effective option for firms looking to spin up servers on an ad hoc basis and gives IT teams more freedom. However, this option calls for specific skills in cost monitoring to ensure overheads do not creep out of control.
Option 2 – Tightly controlled: private cloud
Unlike the Public Cloud option where the infrastructure is shared with multiple companies, Private Cloud means that you have sole use just for your firm. A key highlight of this option is that resources are virtualised so you have the resiliency of the cloud but within a private environment.
Private Cloud often does not have the same level of immediate scalability as Public Cloud but for legal applications with very predictable growth in usage, such as Case and Practice Management Systems, it’s not required.
Private Cloud providers can offer you greater control, something which law firms will have firmly at the top of their agenda given the sensitivity of the data they hold. The software used by law firms also dictates that firms have the ability to customise how data and server infrastructure is managed – something that can be a challenge when using Public Cloud services.
Option 3 – Best of both worlds: hybrid cloud
For law firms looking to have complete control over the infrastructure that hosts some applications, but with room for flexibility for other activities, Hybrid Cloud is an attractive option.
This could mean having mission-critical applications implemented in the Private Cloud and consumed within a Software-as-a-Service model, with the less critical workloads such as test applications being hosted in the Public Cloud.
When moving to a Hybrid Cloud strategy, it’s imperative that you utilise the services of a specialist IT partner. Dividing your applications and data across a multitude of providers can cause additional work as each one will operate with different SLAs, terms and conditions and technical practices.
Building your strategy
Choosing the right cloud strategy will vary from firm to firm depending on a variety of factors, namely the size and complexity of the infrastructure.
An early stage cloud assessment can be hugely beneficial to identify the correct approach. This would look at the whole span of the firm’s infrastructure, software, systems and processes along with existing investments to create a roadmap that is both cost effective and meets your firm’s requirements.
Whether you’re looking at a Public, Private or Hybrid strategy, our Cloud Readiness Assessments are designed to support firms looking at moving to the cloud. Click on the button below to find out more.