There are a lot of cloud companies out there selling cloud services and it can be tough for a “non-techy” person to talk to these companies and actually make the right decision. I thought I would write a quick article outlining a few key points to look for when cloud shopping, some pitfalls to avoid, and what really counts when it comes to securing your law firm data in the cloud.
1. Who Owns & Maintains Your Cloud Server Matters
Typical IT companies offer cloud services but they don’t own their own servers, have never seen their servers, and have no control over the traffic to and from their servers. This becomes problematic when troubleshooting issues on your cloud. Usually this ends up with a lot of finger pointing between the vendor who sold you the cloud an the cloud vendor who maintains the servers, unfortunately the client suffers in the end. Take our advice and go with a company who owns their own servers and offers a private cloud as opposed to reselling public cloud space. Ask if the servers are resold by Azure or Amazon and even ask for a tour of the data facility. It is our experience that is a firm knows where their data is stored they are much more comfortable with the cloud as a whole.
2. Legal Industry Experience Counts
These days there are a lot of cloud companies out there with industry specific experience, don’t be lazy, look for a cloud hosting provider that works in the legal industry. They don’t have to be experts in your software, that’s why you have maintenance contracts with your software vendor, they just need to get you in the cloud with 100% compatibility. They also should know the inner workings of your industry and be able to provide the appropriate support based on the circumstance. Ask for client references within your industry with a similar company size. If you get a glowing reference from a smaller competitor, chances are the vendor can support your karger firm with ease.
3. Ask for a Demo
Demonstrations are important. The vendor should clearly explain to you exactly how the cloud will work if & when you move forward. Test typing in Microsoft Word. Some cloud services suffer from latency and speed issues. Specifically when you type, if you notice a half-second delay, this is not good. It can always be your office internet, but it can also be the cloud. If you notice this, ask your representative how they would go about fixing this.
4. How is Data Protected on the Cloud?
Ask about security, what means and measures are in place to ensure cloud security. How is the cloud secured from the inside & outside. How are clients segregated from each other? Does the cloud support client anonymity? Can other cloud clients find out who you are and what server your using? Is the cloud system monitored? How old is the cloud system altogether? These are all important questions. There are a lot of old cloud companies out there that have been operating since 2007 with very old hardware. This hardware is just not efficient when it comes to today’s speed and efficiency standards. Know the inner workings of your potential cloud vendor.
5. A Backup Plan For the Cloud
Believe it or not, we get this question a lot, “if you go out of business or your company blows up, how can I get access to my data.” It’s a morbid question but serious one none the less. We answer this by offering a free local backup to your office. Every night your cloud data syncs with a local device in your office. The sync offers all firm data in one shot. Int he case of an emergency the firm would need to hire a new cloud vendor or IT company, extract the data and get the firm up and running which would take 1 to 2 days. This is our solution to this question, hopefully other cloud vendors out there have a similar answer. We used to think it was a crazy question, but after being asked over 50 times we started to consider it an extremely valid question.