Services such as email, file sharing and software have become extremely popular in their cloud iterations. So, too, have hosted or cloud-based phone systems, which give firms all the features of a fancy and otherwise expensive phone system at a fraction of the cost, with added reliability and convenience of being in the cloud.
One of the latest things that law firms are moving to the cloud are their desktops. Yes, you’re reading correctly — the desktop PC that has sat on (or under) desks for 20 years is now moving to the cloud in the form of Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS). And when the desktops go to the cloud, so do the servers.
Similar to cloud phone systems, cloud desktops give firms many of the features of an expensive IT infrastructure at a fraction of the cost, with the convenience and reliability of being in the cloud. Just like with cloud-based phone systems, if a DaaS setup is done properly, to end users, it looks and feels just like traditional computers they’re used to — but with many added benefits to the firm.
Before we get into the benefits, allow me to explain why DaaS has only recently become popular. The quality and experience of using any cloud-based system depends on the technology and infrastructure.
For example, we couldn’t have cloud file sharing or hosted phones back in the T1 and DSL days, because these services require faster connections. Delivering an entire desktop via the cloud (or, for a provider, hundreds or thousands of desktops) not only requires a fast connection, but also a very high-performing data center environment. This includes server processors that didn’t exist five years ago, and solid state storage, which is basically a much larger version of the solid state drive (SSD) available for computers and laptops. Without these and other amazing advances in technology, cloud desktops would be sluggish and ineffective. But with them, they fly.
A BOUNTY OF BENEFITS
There are several specific benefits of DaaS for law firms. Firstly, performance will most certainly increase as your users will get brand-new “computers,” living on lightning fast hardware in a purpose-built cloud data center. Crashed PCs, blue screens, hardware malfunctions, inclement weather, tricky VPNs — even equipment theft — will not affect your staff’s ability to access their desktops and do their work. Your users can access their entire desktops — not simply certain applications or files in a different way than they normally work — from any screen (Windows, Mac, iPad, Android, etc.) anywhere, so they can get more done in less time.
Then, there are the security benefits. Firstly, most DaaS providers have multiple layers of fault tolerance and do extensive backups of their clients’ data. That said, it’s still up to you, the customer, to vet anyone you are considering. Secondly, when working on a cloud desktop, the connection is fully encrypted using bank-grade security, and the actual data such as files, databases and documents are never stored locally on your computer or other device. That means lost or stolen equipment is no longer a security risk, nor is accidentally leaving behind files on a personal computer and breaching ethical guidelines.
Finally, when your desktops and servers live in the cloud, there are no longer the concerns of repairing or replacing problematic PCs and complicated VPNs. Additionally, there aren’t backup and restores, server upgrades, and all the other headaches that go along with IT. The cloud provider manages, supports and protects everything, and your staff simply can log in from anywhere and do their work.
Never worrying about any of this means that you’ll be able to focus on the more important parts of running a law firm, such as clients, matters, employees and — of course — the bottom line!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Morris Tabush is the Founder and President of Tabush Group, a provider of managed IT, and the creator of Boxtop, a cloud desktop service for professional firms. Since 2001, his firm has helped hundreds of businesses solve IT challenges and focus on what matters.