The Cloud vs. Your Network

The owners of law firms we have migrated to James Workspaces have been delighted with the simplicity of use, peace of mind, ready access, and cost reduction.
But every law firm has questions before taking the leap. They have been using a server network and had their legal IT services provided by a network maintenance firm for many years. Here are the most common questions we are asked.

What Is Cloud Computing?

Instead of using an onsite server and network of computers to store and access your data and documents, cloud computing uses a network of remote servers on the internet to store, manage, and process your data.
Instead of owning, maintaining, troubleshooting, and securing your own data storage infrastructure, you are relying on one of the biggest technology companies in the world – typically Amazon Web Services, Google, or Microsoft – to provide the infrastructure and service.

Why switch?

Law firms are migrating to the cloud in large numbers for six reasons:

Using a private cloud almost always costs less than maintaining a private network.

A cloud provider like Amazon Web Services has far more sophisticated security practices in place than your private servers ever will.

Your own network will never have the uptime that a cloud provider like Amazon Web Services can provide.

Your software, documents, and email are available from any device and location having internet. No clunky login software is needed.

In the cloud it is much faster and easier to lock out departing team members and add new users and workstations.

Your desktop screen looks the same in the cloud; you have the same shortcuts and icons as before, and no training is needed.

How much money will I save?

The short and conservative answer is 20-35%. Savings can run as high as 45% of your total cost of ownership. The principal sources of dollar savings are:

  • Cancelling your network maintenance contract
  • Efficiencies passed through by the large cloud providers
  • Materially-reduced hardware costs
  • Lower energy consumption
  • Reduced tech support needs. More on this below.

Will I encounter more or fewer tech issues after migrating?

Materially fewer.
Your law firm’s help desk needs will decline precipitously after migrating, and will primarily be limited to ancillary devices like scanners, copiers, and printers.
The reason for the decline is that the amount of infrastructure that you maintain will be more limited. Instead of servers, backups, and desktops, you need only thin client devices with internet access. You can still use desktops, but you don’t have to.

What else will be different after migration?

Both your tech support and hosting costs will be limited to a fixed monthly fee per user.
You will no longer need to pay hourly for extra tech support needs, periodically replace or repair servers, or pay the monthly invoice from your network maintenance firm.

How secure is my data in the cloud?

Your data will be stored and protected by Amazon Web Services, the largest provider of cloud storage services in the world.
Amazon Web Services has more than 1 million customers. 2,000 are government agencies, including the Department of Defense and the CIA.
The security of your current network is unlikely to approach that of Amazon Web Services, as evidenced by the many lawyers who have had to pay ransoms to hackers for the return of their data.

Are there disadvantages?

With any cloud migration you will incur double costs during the overlap period.
This overlap period could be as short as two weeks. It depends upon the contract you have with your network support provider, the timing of the migration, and when you are comfortable disconnecting your server.
To be conservative, we recommend that you plan on 1-2 months of paying both your cloud provider and your network support vendor.

Will I need to purchase any hardware beforehand?

Typically, no.
Your existing hardware should work fine. If you do choose to replace any of your workstations, low-cost thin-client devices can be used after the migration instead of desktops and laptops.

How long does the migration take?

Most of the time we are able to move everything over in one evening.

Do we have to learn anything new?

No. Your desktop appears and works exactly as before the migration – same icons, shortcuts, and programs.
The primary difference is that you can access your data from any location and any device, and the speed of access will usually be far, far faster than you now experience.

What if I have questions about using software, or I simply need help with a minor technical issue? Who do I contact?

As you did with the network maintenance vendor you will now be free to cancel, simply call our 800 number, send an email, or submit a ticket. Assistance from experienced law firm tech specialists is available 24/7, and they will respond to 90% of your requests within 60 minutes.
More detailed information on our tech support and legal IT services is available here.

Why use James?

We serve only law firms. By focusing on the profession we have been helping for 35 years, we have established a deep expertise in firms’ technology needs and what works best in their offices.
And our broad offering of a full range of online marketing services permits you to have all your technology-based needs provided by one knowledgeable, sophisticated, and responsive vendor.

Should your cloud provider also handle your tech support?

Yes, if you want to avoid finger-pointing.
The source of a tech-support issue can be the application, cloud provider, or networked devices. If one vendor provides both cloud services and tech support, you need only call and work with one outfit.

In sum, what are the most important decision factors for a law firm to weigh?

  • Security. Is your network maintenance provider employing technologies that deliver round-the-clock network monitoring, data redundancy, data encryption, multiple firewalls, intrusion prevention, regular backups, anti-malware deployment, and continuous uptime?
  • Tech support issues. Is productivity being reduced by network downtime, hard drive failures, virus infections, slow load speeds, and balky or unavailable offsite access?
  • Technology expense. Are you spending too much on hardware, monthly network maintenance charges, and hourly or in-house tech support costs?

To learn more about migrating your data, documents, and applications to the cloud, click the button below.