Private Cloud vs. Office 365

For Law Firms.

It’s a question we’re asked frequently: Why do I need a private cloud solution like Uptime Practice? Why not just get Office 365?

Private Cloud vs. Office 365 – What’s the difference?

It’s a good question–especially considering the kind of nebulous definition of cloud computing. So here’s the breakdown:

Microsoft Office 365 is essentially a bundle of Microsoft traditional desktop Office software (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, and so forth) with their hosted Exchange (email service) and OneDrive (cloud file storage service). Nothing more, nothing less.

So–Should I get Office 365?

If your law firm needs nothing more than Microsoft Office, email and a place to store documents, Office 365 might do the trick. (Questions of what countries your data will be stored in and subsequent data sovereignty issues aside.) But we rarely see a law firm that only needs file storage and email.

What Exactly is a Private Cloud?

A private cloud solution, like our own Uptime Practice, is a complete platform that will host your entire law firm–not just your documents and email. A private cloud solution is typically a complete virtual server that will host your legal practice management software, your billing/accounting software, your documents and email. The service is usually delivered as a virtual desktop experience–a working environment each user can access from anywhere, on any device.

As the term private suggests, having a private cloud means your firm’s workspace and data is segregated from other clients hosted by the cloud provider—which ensures security and compliance.

Don’t Forget About IT Support

Add to that–some private cloud services (such as our own Uptime Practice) includes support and endpoint security (antivirus) for your local computers, along with unlimited IT support for your local network: Your computers, printers, scanners, network devices, and generally the day-to-day IT support we all need. (Wouldn’t it be nice to have one company that provides your cloud platform and fixes your wireless router when it breaks?)

Your Legal Applications

They key difference, really, is a private cloud’s ability to host your software applications such as PCLaw, Time Matters, ProLaw, Worldox, Tabs3, Needles, and so forth. Office 365–being just email and file storage–can’t do this (nor is it meant to.) Add to that: Private cloud solutions–like Uptime Practice–often include the licensing and hosting of SQL server–the database engine used and required by many modern legal software applications (like Time Matters, ProLaw, and Worldox, just to name a few).


To underscore this fundamental difference, take a look at the comparison below.

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. Under Dennis’ leadership, Uptime Legal has grown organically and through acquisitions to become the nationally-recognized legal technology company it is today. Uptime Legal continues to innovate and disrupt the legal technology space, and has been named to the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing private for the past six consecutive years. Dennis was also an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year finalist.

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