Law firms have a variety of options for how and where to host their legal practice management software. First, is the company using the cloud or on-premises? If they use the cloud, will they choose to run in a browser or a cloud desktop? Finally they must choose the type of cloud; public, private, hybrid or multi-cloud. All these decisions are technical in nature. With a good software partner, law firm users shouldn’t notice a difference anywhere and everywhere the software is hosted. The functionality, look and feel of the software remains exactly the same wherever it is supported by any device. This blog explains all the options.
What do the terms “cloud” and “on-premises” mean to law firms?
First, you can choose whether to host your software in the cloud or on-premises (sometimes called on-premises).
- On-premise: Companies can choose to host and manage their software on their own internal servers, which are located on their own premises, with their own IT staff/team to manage their IT infrastructure themselves. This is called on-premise (or sometimes on-premise or in-house hosting). In this way, you need to purchase a software license and install the software on the law firm’s computer, and the user will log in to the firm’s server for access.
- Cloud: Alternatively, law firms can outsource the management and hosting of their business software to a trusted technology partner through one of several cloud computing options. This is called “Software as a Service” (SaaS). This means that the company’s employees will have online access to their legal practice management software via a secure internet connection.
Should law firms choose browser-run software over cloud desktops?
The choices don’t stop there. Law firms looking to go the cloud route can consider a range of cloud options.
So next, companies need to decide whether browser-run software or cloud desktop software (also known as Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP)) is best for the business.
- A “browser-run” software program typically resides on a server outside your own local network, but is accessed and run over the Internet from your local desktop device. The web pages your users see through their browsers provide a user interface through which your employees control and run cloud-based software and process cloud-based data from their desktop devices.
- “Virtual Desktops” use Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) and Remote Desktop Services (RDS) to connect desktops, laptops (and other thin and thick clients) to operating systems and applications running on remote servers in the cloud . This allows all processing to be done in the cloud, while the desktop device only needs enough resources to display pictures (i.e. graphics) to the user to display on their local desktop screen what is happening in the software in the cloud.
Which cloud is best for law firms?
The next decision is which cloud type to choose. There are three main types of cloud that law firms need to consider:
A public cloud is an on-demand, subscription-based computing infrastructure owned and managed by third-party providers and shared with multiple organizations over the Internet. Examples provided by well-known public clouds are – Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud.
A private cloud is dedicated to a single organization. They are usually behind an organization’s own firewall, completely isolated from other organizations and their users. You can build a private cloud on-premises or rent a private cloud in a data center.
Hybrid and multi-cloud
Both integrate with multiple clouds. The difference is that hybrid cloud infrastructure mixes different types of clouds, while multicloud mixes different clouds of the same type.
A hybrid cloud infrastructure connects at least one public cloud with at least one private cloud.
Multicloud is where you have multiple cloud services from multiple providers (public or private). Not all multiclouds are hybrid, but all hybrid clouds are multicloud. Multi-cloud can be described as hybrid when multiple clouds are connected.
There are many reasons why a law firm might need a hybrid or multi-cloud environment for its business systems. This scenario may increase scalability, increase agility, and improve risk management, to name a few. We have a white paper published by Access Legal firm Oosha that goes into more detail on this: Public Cloud, Private Cloud or Hybrid Cloud – Which is Right for Your Company?
This article has been submitted to Access Legal for publication as part of its advertising agreement with Today’s Wills and Probate. The views expressed in this article are those of the submitter and not those of Wills and Probate Today.