BYOD and the cloud: A match made in tech heaven

 

Personal technology has been growing by leaps and bounds recently. The Pew Research Center stated that around 68 percent of Americans now own a smartphone, a device that could be considered a computer you can fit in your pocket.

Therefore, it has begun to make a lot of sense for employers to allow their staff to utilize personally owned gadgets for work. This trend has been named “bring your own device,” and it’s gaining a lot of popularity all over the world. In fact, many companies have begun to utilize BYOD in tandem with a cloud deployment.

“Your employees are already using their own devices.”

BYOD is here, whether you like it or not

To begin, it’s important to note that your employees are already using their own devices to complete their daily duties. A study from Gartner found that around 37 percent of those surveyed stated they were using personal gadgets for work-related purposes without informing their superiors.

This is a huge problem, because it means that these companies have a gaping security flaw waiting to be exploited by hackers, as people very often don’t secure their own devices properly. Implementing a BYOD program that leverages the many security benefits of the cloud can help alleviate this issue.

The cloud fosters mobility

Outside of simply fixing an existing problem, combining BYOD and the cloud allows employees to truly take advantage of the wonders of modern mobility. Many organizations – especially those operating within the legal sector – have to complete their work outside of the office.

Mobility is a big advantage of the cloud and BYODEmployees very often have to collaborate outside the office.

This is where the cloud comes in. Before this technology, the only way for employees to complete tasks while away from the office was to lug all the resources they needed around with them. This was either cumbersome or simply impossible, and put a real damper on working to meet the demands of clients.

The other side of this is that BYOD allows for more flexibility in the movement of expensive equipment. While the cloud allows employees to access information wherever they are, they still need some kind of connected device. An organization could allow workers to sign out company-owned machines, but this always risks the chance of something expensive getting damaged.

BYOD, on the other hand, poses no such financial risk to the business. Anything that breaks or is lost needn’t be replaced by the company. It’s a major improvement that more organizations should be taking advantage of.

4 reasons why law firms should embrace the cloud [infographic]

Infographics On Why Law Offices Need The Cloud

Those working in the legal industry have very specific needs in terms of the tools they use to get the job done. The fast-paced nature of the sector, coupled with the need for privacy for clients, means that law firms need to be extremely careful about the solutions that they choose to implement. Therefore, many organizations opt to stick with older ways of doing things, for fear that newer technologies could disrupt how they conduct business.

This has led to a lot of trepidation when it comes to adopting the cloud. Many legal firms feel like the switch will be hard, or that the cloud simply doesn’t have what they need. This simply couldn’t be further from the truth.

To begin, the cloud is incredibly easy to transition to if you have the right partner. Afinety has helped countless organizations move over to cloud-based platforms, and we’ve become quite good at making it as painless as possible.

The other side of this is the fact that the cloud is incredibly useful for those working within the legal sector. One of the biggest draws here is the technology’s ability to promote mobility. Lawyers and other legal employees often have to work outside of the office. This is where working off of an in-house solution can hit a major snag, as these people simply aren’t able to access the information they need to get the job done. In fact, the American Bar Association found that 94 percent of lawyers either use the internet “regularly” or “occasionally” when working away from the office.

Of course, mobility is only one of many benefits that the cloud has. This technology is truly revolutionary, and we want to ensure that as many people as possible are able to leverage its power. To that end, we’ve put together the infographic below that spells out the top four reasons why those working in the legal industry should consider a cloud-based solution.

If any of these pique your interest – and they certainly should – feel free to contact an Afinety representative today to learn more about this amazing technology.

 4 Reasons Why Law Firms Should Embrace The Cloud infographics_ Afinety

What can the cloud do for law firms?

 

The cloud has forever changed the face of modern business. Quite literally every industry has begun to see the benefits of this disruptive technology. In fact, a survey from Spiceworks found that 93 percent of companies were relying on the cloud to provide at least one service. Clearly, enterprise IT has a lot to gain from the cloud.

However, certain law firms are still hesitant about making the switch. To that end, let’s discuss some benefits these organizations can see if they move to the cloud.

Increase disaster recovery responsiveness

“Legal matters are often very time sensitive.”

Legal matters are often very time-sensitive. This means that law firm employees need to have constant access to important documents in order to ensure clients are receiving the services they’ve paid for in a timely fashion. However, the sad reality is that catastrophe lurks around every corner. Whether it’s a fire that completely destroys your office or a flood that decimates your IT infrastructure, there’s always a chance that a disaster could dramatically affect your facility.

This is why it’s so important to keep important information stored in the cloud. To begin, cloud-based documents are stored in highly protected data centers that have all kinds of measures meant to mitigate the risk of disaster. On top of that, cloud providers often help you develop a disaster recovery plan, which maps out the data and applications you need brought back online first in the event of such a catastrophe.

Bring more focus to mobile solutions

Those working in the legal sector are often out of the office. Court dates, client meetings and a whole host of other tasks simply can’t be accomplished in-house, which means these employees are often relying on their smartphones in order to receive and send information pertinent to their current case. This is yet another area where the cloud flourishes.

Legal employees need to access information on the go. Law firms can seriously benefit from cloud-based mobile solutions.

Working on a cloud-based platform allows employees the unique opportunity to access important information and applications regardless of where they are. This is good news, because many companies are deciding to use the cloud for its smartphone capabilities. In fact, Statista has predicted that cloud traffic related to mobile devices is going to take up 90 percent of worldwide mobile traffic by 2019. Clearly, those who don’t figure out a way to integrate mobile cloud solutions are going to be left behind.

You need to work with someone that knows the industry

That said, due to the unique challenges facing law firms, these institutions can’t just get into bsi old cloud provider. Those looking to see exactly what the cloud can do for their business should contact an Afinety representative today. Our years of experience can help ensure that your law firm gets the technological boost it needs.

Where is Your Network Now?

Most law firms today are considering whether to move to cloud solutions for their IT needs. An overwhelming number of law firms are either actively seeking cloud services or are in the midst of moving toward such a solution. Many partners and firms, however, remain unconvinced for a number of reasons. In most cases, there are two primary concerns, security and cost.

Security
Of the two concerns, security seems to be the more important, with cost being a close second. To understand this, let’s start with a simple concept. What does “in the cloud” actually mean? Generally, it means your data is stored on a server that is accessible via the Internet. That leads us to some simple questions you can ask yourself about your firm.

1. Does anyone in your firm have a handheld device that receives email?
2. Does your firm allow users to work from home or remote locations?
3. Can your users get to the web via a browser – for example for legal research?
4. Has anyone at your firm ever had a virus on their computer?

If you answered yes to ANY of these, then let’s ask another question. Do you know where your system is now? Yes, that’s right: Your firm is ALREADY in the cloud. Unless your firm is extremely isolated – and almost nobody is – you are in the cloud now. There really is no other way to look at it. Having the ability to walk into a server room (or closet, or perhaps the kitchen!) and touch a server has nothing to do with being in the cloud.

If you are in the cloud now, then we must ask ourselves a new set of questions about where we want our system for security purposes.

1. How many dedicated IT staff do you have on security alone?
2. Do you have a locked server room?
a. Is it monitored by cameras?
b. Is it under guard 24×7?
c. Does it have a generator(s) in the event the power is out?
3. Is your firm’s network certified to meet common requirements such as:
a. HIPAA (health information security)
b. ISO27001 (security management system standard)
c. SSAE16 (security controls)
4. Is your system redundant to geographically diverse locations?
a. Are those other locations under the same standards?
5. Can you send encrypted email?
6. Is your data encrypted end to end?

These are simple, easy choices from a very long list. If your firm, for example, has banking clients, you may be required to meet some or all of the standards above and many more. For most firms, meeting all of these is difficult if not impossible. Even the largest firms find that meeting even the simple and common requirements is costly. Why are these requirements needed? Obviously it is because your network is in the cloud and it must be protected.

For a cloud based network, these questions are quite easy to answer, but we must first look at what a true cloud provider is. Often we find the “cloud” solutions being sold in the marketplace are not actually cloud solutions but rather data centers. There is nothing inherently wrong about this aside from the fact that firms who use those providers are wholly dependent upon them and the provider’s security policies. Often these will meet the more basic certifications such as SSAE16 or ISO27001 but not always. Thus if one of these hosting providers (notice I’m not using cloud provider) is being considered, then inquiries about security certifications, geographic redundancy and physical plant security are appropriate.

For a true cloud provider however, such as AWS (Amazon Web Services), Microsoft or Google, all of the various security criteria are met and many more. The largest provider in the world is AWS (by light years) and they also have the finest security in the world. It is a simple matter of going to the AWS site and examining their certifications to see that they meet anything a law firm might require. Thus by simply moving an on-premises network into the cloud, your security is dramatically increased.

Cost
So, if we agree that you are in the cloud now, then why not have proper security, redundancy etc.? The answer for your firm may be cost, so let’s look at that next.

The biggest issue with comparing a true cloud solution or even a hosted solution with an on premises network is gathering all the pertinent data. We are often asked to help firms do this comparison and we can often do it quite quickly when we have historical data available, but how do you add it all up?

Some firms do not care about security, or even best practices such as proper Disaster Recovery solutions. For these firms the value of either of these areas is lessened and often ignored – that is until either a user gets a virus or data is lost due to poor backup policies. When either of those things happen, partners tend to start noticing.

We also encounter firms that put little or no value on productivity, thinking that if the work gets done, why does it matter how efficiently it is completed? Again if this is the opinion of the partnership, then it is difficult to assess any value to productive users. At the same time, the largest single cost in just about any law firm is personnel, so this in fact should be the primary area of focus.

If we assume that these things ARE important, then how do we compare? It is still more difficult than you might imagine, but a simplistic way to do it is to add up the costs below and compare them over time to the cost of a cloud solution.

• Physical server, storage and peripheral equipment purchased and lifetime of those assets
• HVAC costs to maintain that equipment
• Backup and Disaster Recovery System costs
• Monitoring, updates and anti-malware ongoing costs
• IT staff to support these systems OR the portion of time used by staff to do so.
• Local PC lifetimes and costs for replacement
• Internal and outside IT support costs for server related issues
• Cost of Internet provider which may rise with a Cloud Solution for performance reasons.

If you add all of this up over the lifetime of these assets – which is generally 3 – 5 years depending on the firm – you have some feeling for your overall IT costs over time. It is a simple matter then to compare this with the monthly costs involved in a hosted or cloud network solution. We find that 9 times out of 10 when we do this comparison the costs are about the same.

Once you add in the intangibles such as mobility, work from anywhere, instant disaster recovery, dramatically reduced support costs for your users and 24×7 availability the cloud solution quickly out performs any local network financially.

To summarize, the cloud costs the same, is more secure (by light years) and offers significant intangible benefits. So why not move to the cloud? The answer to that can be recent investment in local equipment – thus timing is not yet right. It might be that the firm does not care about backup, mobility, user productivity and similar issues and simply wants the cheapest IT solution it can find. In any case, it is prudent to look at cloud solutions when the firm’s timing IS right. Security and cost can come off the table and you can decide which cloud offering is best for you.

6 Benefits of Moving Your Law Practice Network to the Cloud

Why It Is Essential To Move Your Law Firm To The Cloud

If you’re on the fence about moving your network to the cloud due to security, cost or other issues, here are 6 reasons why you should reconsider.

1. Pay as you go. Instead of investing capital in your server room with move to the cloud and pay for services as consumed.
2. Economies of scale. By using cloud computing, you can leverage the usage of hundreds of thousands of customers that are aggregated in the cloud by providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS).
3. No more guess work on your capacity needs. With Cloud Computing, you can access as much or as little capacity as you need. Scale up and down as required with only a few minutes notice.
4. Increase speed and agility. Changes to your cloud network can be done quickly with more resources and won’t take up the resources of your staff.
5. Focus on your business, not the infrastructure. Cloud computing lets you focus on your own customers, rather than on the heavy lifting of racking, stacking and powering servers.
6. Improved user experience. Deployment of applications can done quickly and easily.

For more information on the basics of Cloud Computing, security and more, click here: https://aws.amazon.com/resources/gartner-2015-mq-learn-more/

Image by Perspecsys Photos, licensed under Creative Commons