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FALL 2015 EDITION

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Your Cloud Provider as Your Partner:
Five Steps to Take before Moving to the Cloud

Let’s face it, moving to the Cloud is no small task, but logistically, it makes total sense. Before we start jetting through migrating, moving applications, emails, and other resource-intensive operations, let’s consider a few reasons why it is imperative to have a strong partnership with your cloud provider.

Resources – Planning with Your Cloud Service Provider

It’s easy to say “let’s pull the trigger and get in the Cloud!” But it’s even easier to forget the importance of allocating resources and planning ahead. Often times, firms forget to notify their cloud service provider (CSP) of an impending project, new application in the pipeline, or the addition of employees in the near future. This can complicate the implementation process, as new resources have to be made available to let that happen. Failure to notify the CSP prior to major decisions can result in delayed support and delivery of service.

Case Example

A firm that has 50 employees, four applications, and one terabyte of data storage, has recently made the decision to move to the Cloud. The firm is considering an acquisition that would add another firm with another 200 employees, thousands of gigabytes of storage, ten applications, and global offices. Due to varying international laws regarding client information privacy, there may be stipulations against storing U.S. based client information in other countries. Prior to the acquisition, the firm’s CSP should be made aware of the eventual goal, so that they can effectively support the firm during the transition. A competent CSP will provide solutions not only for your local, but global cloud needs as well.

PRO TIP: A competent CSP will be able to react in a flash. However, there still may be complications from unforeseen issues, so it’s best to build a project plan/outline 30-60 days in advance of implementation.  

Have a Backup and Disaster Recovery Plan in Place

When moving to the Cloud, remember that a backup and disaster recovery (BDR) policy is vital to your firm’s success. Trust us, whatever dollars are spent on bulking up on backup and disaster recovery are a completely justifiable expense in lieu of the potential loss from a disaster. A competent CSP will provide you with detailed and powerful BDR tools that can be customized to fit your day-to-day backup needs. Ask your CSP if they can backup daily, hourly, monthly, and for how long backups can be stored.

PRO TIP: “Can you give me some details on the BDR services that you offer” is a great question to test the competence of the CSP you are considering. A great response will include a full list of details.

Plan for the worst, expect the best. Always plan for the worst that can happen BEFORE you migrate to the Cloud, and expect the BEST service and performance while moving there.

Understanding and Replicating Your Business Workflow

Believe it or not, the Cloud offers a robust playground where you can customize your day-to-day operations. Your CSP should be able to go down the line of all your business operations and develop a platform that fits every facet of your daily workflow. As a firm administrator, or individual in charge of IT at your firm, it is imperative to be aware of your business workflows. Your CSP will then be able to help you decide where to implement various cloud elements to improve that workflow.

As a CSP, we try to make sure that the day-to-day workflow of a law firm is maintained when using the Cloud, so there is minimal disruption. Let’s face it, there will be resistance to going to the Cloud by some staff, therefore, it is imperative that your CSP takes the time to understand the unique requirements of your firm and people. For example, some users may want to log into a cloud desktop every day, while others may just want to launch applications because they have some local apps that they want to interact along with cloud apps. A competent, cloud provider will offer choices and help the users choose what works best for them.

PRO TIP: Don’t be shy! Your CSP should be up to the challenge of finding every opportunity to improve your business practice, so spill the beans on what you think can be improved.

The more IT information that is shared with your CSP, the better they can assist you with moving to the Cloud quickly and efficiently. Keep an open mind. Often times your CSP will suggest areas for improvement and offer you solutions that will help improve your business workflow.

Legal and Compliance Considerations

As tempting as it is to simply migrate to the Cloud as quickly as possible, there are many legal considerations that must be taken into account when considering a CSP. Often times there are limits on where client data can be shared and stored, and often there are even geographical limitations (such as not storing client data outside of the country). To combat this, be sure your CSP has multiple server locations and availability zones, and meets as many regulatory compliances as possible. Take Amazon Web Services for example:

partners

Photo Credit: AWS 2015

Wow! Imagine saying all of those in a row! That truly is the point, though. The more compliant your CSP is, the easier you can sleep at night knowing that your clients’ information is safe. As a party to solid compliance, you should consider a cyber liability policy as well to further protect against the fallout from any security incident. Be sure your firm is acting ethically within various jurisdictions. Due diligence is very important. Be sure to grill your CSP on things like:

  • Where are your data centers?
  • What is your uptime? (availability)
  • What are your SLA terms?
  • What security/BDR solutions do you have in place?

Try to get as much information about your CSP’s product offerings, reputation, and business practice as possible, because when the hammer comes down, you need to show that you did your due diligence in vetting a reputable CSP.  

PRO TIP: Remember that a cyber liability insurance policy is a great thing to have, even if you are working with a fully compliant CSP. It REALLY will help, and more than likely, your CSP will have a policy covering their own business as well.

Accessibility

All cloud solutions are not created equal. Mobility is the number one reason why people consider the Cloud for their business. It is paramount that the cloud solution works from most commonly used devices. If you ask “can your cloud solution work _______” (insert a location or device), and your CSP says “Yes we can,” that’s a great start. What about your help desk support? When are they available? What about in the event of an emergency? Where is your support team located? You want to be sure that you have support and access at all times of the day, no matter where you are. Your CSP should deliver what you need, where you need it, at any time.

PRO TIP: Be sure that the service level agreement (SLA) that the CSP is offering is agreeable to your needs. If you have a dispute later on regarding services, you may be referred to your agreed upon SLA statement.

In closing, it’s important to understand these fundamental issues before migrating to the Cloud. If you have any questions, feel free to contact the experts at LevelCloud for assistance.

 

LevelCloud

LevelCloud- A Cloud Hosting Division of Forum Info-Tech specializes in private hosted cloud services to law firms who want to move their IT infrastructure to the Cloud. LevelCloud hosts all the major legal applications in the market and is a certified hosting partner of ProLaw. Click here for more information.

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