Private Cloud: A Primer for Law Firms

It’s officially the Cloud Era.

Law firms and the legal industry are embracing cloud computing across the nation. When we think of “the cloud” and of law firms moving to the cloud, we often think of cloud storage services such as One Drive or Dropbox. Or we think of web-based software used by law firms: Web-based Practice Management application such as Clio and CosmoLex, or web-based Document Management applications such as LegalWorks.

But there’s more to the cloud than just web apps. Today many small and midsized law firms are turning to a Private Cloud to move their software, documents and email to the cloud and to eliminate the need for on-premise servers. How does a Private Cloud differ from other cloud services? What does a Private Cloud do? Should your firm move to a Private Cloud? In this post we’ll explore Private Cloud for Law Firms.

Server-based Software for Law Firms

To understand the purpose of a Private Cloud for law firms, first we must remember that not too long ago: There was no such thing as web-based software. Even today, many of the leading software packages used by law firms are server-based, meaning they must be installed and run on a server (traditionally: a server in the law firm’s office). A private cloud is a server–much like the server your firm may have it its copy room–but a server provided, managed and supported by a Cloud Service Provider (CSP).

Web-based applications like the ones mentioned above are cloud-based, which makes them inherently mobile, accessible and don’t require a server onsite. However: today’s law firms—especially law firms that are largest than just a few people–need robust technology and they are often already committed to existing legal practice management, billing, or accounting software. Law firms also have a heightened need for security, compliance, and reliability. For these firms, a Private Cloud is the perfect fit.

A Private Cloud for law firms is a server that will host server-based software in the cloud, which the end users–your firm’s employees–access from anywhere via a virtual desktop.

What is a Virtual Desktop?

Sometimes called Desktop-as-a-Service, or DaaS, a cloud service provider replaces your law firm’s server and IT platform with a hosted and managed Virtual Desktop. You and your staff utilize the Virtual Desktop to access your applications and documents.

From an end user’s perspective: A user can login from any device (a PC, a Mac, an iPad, and so forth). Within the Virtual Desktop, she will find Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook email, your firm’s practice management, and billing software. And since all of these applications, along with the user’s documents and email, are hosted by a Cloud Service Provider, she can connect from any device, anywhere in the world.

Aside from the benefit of working from anywhere, the real benefit of a Virtual Desktop and a Private Cloud: the service provider administers all system maintenance and software updates. You, the law firm, can focus on what you do best, and leave IT to the service provider.

To see what working in a virtual desktop looks like, watch our demonstration video:

About the Author: Dennis Dimka
Dennis Dimka is the CEO and founder of Uptime Legal Systems, North America's leading provider of technology, cloud and marketing services to law firms. Dennis is the author of Law Practice as a Service: How and Why to Move Your Law Firm to the Cloud. Follow Dennis on LinkedIn.

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