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The cloud is the future of data storage.  The question is whether law firms will shift their data to the cloud in the years to come or continue with their current data storage approach.  The answer to this question depends on the law firm in question as well as its client base and budget.

Perform an Initial Assessment

Shifting to the cloud is not the type of project you dive right into without planning ahead.  Start your evaluation of the cloud by performing an assessment of your law firm.  This is an opportunity to determine if your firm is ready for the transition to the cloud, gauge how cloud-based you currently are and ultimately set the stage for a successful future.  Consider just how sensitive your data is.  Determine which applications are business-critical.  Are these applications on-site or at a colocation site?  Once this assessment is performed, you might find some parts of your law firm are already functioning in the cloud.  In fact, those who rely on Gmail or social media for marketing are already partially based on the cloud.  Furthermore, some law firms already use the cloud for disaster recovery/business continuity solutions.

Pay for the Cloud Instead of Infrastructure

The decision to migrate to the cloud should be shaped by the structure of your organization and its financial position.  Shift to the cloud from an on-site data center and you will offload a considerable portion of your IT spending.  There is no sense building a brand new data center when you can pay for cloud services as necessary.  You can scale the cloud up and down as necessary across posterity rather than paying for even more infrastructure.  However, it must be noted running your operations in the cloud is not always the cheapest option.  Though it is typically free to upload to the cloud, there are some fees for various cloud services.

Consider Your Firm’s Specialties and Client Base

Your practice specialties and client base should play a part in shaping your decision to move to the cloud or stick with your current situation.  As an example, law firms that specialize in intellectual property are often barred from putting data in the cloud as it could be pilfered or compromised.  However, class action law firms are dependent on the cloud for client services.  The type of client you serve along with your law firm’s specialty will ultimately shape how you proceed with your data storage decision.

Tech Expertise at Your Disposal

If you are a manager or partner at a comparably small law firm without IT personnel, it will likely prove easier and more affordable to let the cloud specialists handle your data.  From maintaining, improving and patching servers to enforcing data protection policies and beyond, there is plenty to do in the context of data protection.  The bottom line is those who work with cloud technology are likely better at managing infrastructure than the average law firm IT employee.  In some cases, it is not possible to completely move to the cloud.  Migrating to the cloud has the potential to be an expensive and complicated transition for larger law firms.

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