Movin’ on up with the Cloud: A Law Firm’s Success Story

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As a law firm dealing with patent applications for prominent Silicon Valley clientele, a Palo Alto-based “Firm” maintained a high class image and reputation for delivering the best service for their clients. As their business grew, however, delivering the quality of service they desired became harder and harder. The Firm called eSudo for help. In the initial meeting, the company owner and senior attorney discussed several problems. First, the attorneys' efficiency was compromised because they had difficulty finding necessary files they needed, particularly when an attorney on the team was not available. Sometimes the required file would be on the public drive on the company server, sometimes it would reside on an attorney's desktop computer - often attoneys would spend half an hour or more hunting down the file, going desktop to desktop. Another issue - especially with their more prestigious clients, for discussions over intellectual property, it was better to have meetings at the client location. The Firm had no provision for remote access to files and this not only would cause delay in service, but would also make the firm look behind the times to the high clients. Recently, one client left the Firm after years of service for an upstart firm. Often the network ran slow and attorneys had to wait for actions to complete. In a joking manner, but all too true, attorneys would joke to each other at the coffee pot that they were on break waiting for the hour glass on their montitor to go away. Equipment repair issues further exacerbated the situation. Network downtime happened monthly and it always seemed to come at the most inopportune times. When this happened, tensions would run high, making the working environment all the more stressful. The owner was concerned about attorney dissatisfaction, burnout, and attrition because of the workplace pressure. Cost of hardware replacement also added concern for the owner.

Tackling the Problem, the eSudo Way

With these issues in mind, eSudo started to tackle the issues and initially conducted an assessment business operation by — talking with the management about the business operations. Understanding the business processes and flow was an important first step because the ultimate Information Technology solution had to fit the Firm's business operations - there is no one-size-fits-all way to make the necessary changes. eSudo then took stock of the present situation and reviewed network setup. The review revealed that the existing infrastructure did not have capabilithy to support the Firm’sneed for mobile work.Also, the review uncovered that most of the Firm’shardware and software were out of warranty and servers were running operating systems that the manufacturer no longer supported, contributing to the network downtime. Further the network had insufficient bandwidth and storage capacity, causing slow response time. eSudo advised the Firm to renovate their network infrastructure to protect sensitive data, provide a solid foundation for a new IT infrastructure, and move them to a Cloud solution built for today’s mobile workforce.

eSudo worked with the Firm’s IT Manager to design a network upgrade plan based on the Firm’s primary objectives. Using a combination of virtual server technology and eSudo Cloud-based services, eSudo provided a comprehensive solution that would support the Firm’s growingIT needs –not just for the short term, but for many years to come.

Some of the biggest changes for the Law Firm’s management:

  1. Eliminate Cost and Complexity - one of the biggest challenges for the Firm was to tackle on-going cost for the upkeep of new servers, software licensing, maintenance, and upgrades. The Law Firm is in the business of providing legal services to their customers and want to get out of the business of IT infrastructure such as purchasing, hardware depreciation, and the cycle of retiring physical IT infrastructure as it becomes outdated.
    • Solution — by moving the Law Firm’s IT environment to the Cloud, they no longer have to pay for servers, software licensing, maintenance, and on-going upgrades when there is new software versions available. IT cost is billed as a monthly utility, not a burdensome capital expense. It reduces environmental costs—no need to power and cool the server room or use expensive office space to store the server hardware or phone system. As a result of moving to the Cloud, the Law Firm can serve their customers better, faster, all while staying focused on moving their business forward.
  2. File Sharing and Storage Challenges — like most law firms, they have many documents and files that need to be stored, filed, and securely shared with their customers, staff, and outside consultants. With the current environment, files were saved, sometimes locally on desktops or sometimes on the office server. Next, the files would be emailed to the customer or consultants, who might be helping a particular case. This creates issues with security, backup for the files, and the ability to track where documents are going.
    • Solution: eSudo migrated the Firm’s physical office servers to a virtual private cloud server and storage environment. The cloud server/storage environment provides flexible storage space, enhanced security, and file sharing to staff members working in the office or remotely. A designated outside consultant can be given temporary, secure access to log on company servers, access application software or to work on files and save changes. Using this process makes the file secure and convenient for both the Law Firm and the consultant, because all the edit changes are saved without leaving the company server and there is no software to install on the consultant’s local computer. For the customer, the file can be shared over a secure link using Office 365 OneDrive or SharePoint online. Alternatively, the file can be sent securely over encrypted email to the customer.
  3. Business Email — the customer was using an in-house Exchange mail server and some of the challenges were keeping the server/client software always updated and current. Managing backup and disaster recovery against fire, theft, or hardware failure. Constantly updating software protection against spam and viruses. Mitigating the risk against Internet failure and power outages.
    • Solution — eSudo migrated the Firm’s Exchange Server 2003 to Microsoft Office 365 running the latest Exchange server with spam filter, virus protection, redundant servers and storage to protect against hardware failure. This Cloud datacenter solution includes multiple Internet connections with battery backup running on commercial grade generators to protect against power failure. Adding the feature of sending secure encrypted email and the ability to archive all company emails provided another level of security and confidence for the Firm, collaborators, and customers. As a result, this provided a more reliable and secure email collaboration platform without having to purchase new hardware or software, saving the Firm time and money.
  4. Non-Standardized Workstation Platform — the Law Firm was running different operating systems ( Windows 7 and Windows 8) including mix-matched application software versions. The operating system type and application software depended on when the computer was purchased and what pre-loaded software was included. For example, some computers had Office 2007 with Acrobat 7; while others had Office 2010 or Office 2013 with Acrobat 8. With the current non-standard setup, compatibility issues ensued when trying to share files, creating additional challenges for the support staff. Also, employee new hires took longer to on-board because all the workstations all had different setups.
    • Solution — eSudo created a virtual desktop in the Cloud, called eSudo Cloud Workspace, and installed corporate-wide applications, QuickBooks, Time Slip, Acrobat, Microsoft Office, standardizing operating systems and application software for all users. This upgrade provided the Law Firm with the latest technology to increase productivity, reduce support cost, and add scalability for new hires. For example, an employee new hire can be setup in hours instead of days. With the eSudo Cloud Workspace, employees and/or outside consultants can log-on remotely to access files, documents and applications based on their work role or security permissions.
  5. Voice and Video Calling - the Law Firm had a traditional in-house PBX system. The challenges with the current PBX are expensive to support, cannot receive and make audio calls remotely when outside the office. Phone and video conferencing were cumbersome and not easy to setup or use.
    • Solution - eSudo moved the Law Firm’s aging phone system to a Cloud based VoIP (Voice over IP) using desk phones and soft-phones (on a PC or Smartphone). The VoIP system allowed the Firm to:
      • Use remote extensions or remote desk phones
      • Receive voicemail in their email (audio file)
      • Start or join audio/video conferencing
      • Use the Find Me-Follow Me feature on their mobile phone
      • Have secure company internal Instant Messaging, and much more

    Overall, the Cloud phone system increased mobility by allowing their employees to take their office extension with them wherever they go. Setup audio conference calls and video meetings in a matter of seconds.

  6. Remote Access – when an employee, consultant or a Law Firm partner wanted to work from home or a remote location, they had to use a VPN (virtual private network). This required them to use a home PC or company provided PC to login, connect to the server, access the file, and then save the file back to the server. This was a lot of network traffic over multiple devices that would lead to increased connection issues and software maintenance. The VPN model works but not well because it requires the VPN software to be installed and updated on a regular basis to stay current and secure. Files transferred to an employee computer may not be secure and backed up. If the employee computer is not company provided, there is a security risks because the PC may not be protected by antivirus software. The PC operating system and application software may not be updated or patched. Some Internet providers or hotels also block VPN access, thus causing more challenges to employee productivity.
    • Solution - eSudo created remote access for all employees, consultants, and partners without using VPN. All these users can use their own computer to securely access company files and applications. Using the eSudo Cloud Workspace, the remote worker or employee can logon using a “thin client” on their desktop and have full access to company files, documents, emails, and applications including programs such as QuickBooks and Time Slip. The Cloud Workspace Desktop looks exactly the same as Windows 10 Desktop no matter if the employee is working remotely or in the office. The files will not leave the company Cloud Server and will not need to be transferred out of the company (increasing security for company documents). Overall, the Cloud Workspace provides easy and secure remote access, protection for the company data and files, and saves the company money because the employees, consultants, and partners can use their device to work remotely.
  7. Network Security and Data Protection - like many businesses, the security of their computer network and data files are important and critical to their operations. When we moved them to the Cloud, the Law Firm had the following concerns; are my data files safe, how can we securely access files over Internet and what happens if we have Internet outage.
    • Solution - there are many redundancies built-in to a Cloud environment to protect the company. The cloud servers have redundancy built-in to the hardware, electrical power backup, and multiple Internet connections to help dramatically reduce the chance of failure. Data files are stored in mirrored drives and backed to another storage nightly. Access to data files and applications are restricted to User Roles/Permissions and user logon requires Two-Step Verification that includes a username, password, and one-time token. The Cloud solution provided to the Law Firms has given them a huge advantage compared to the onsite system. Now, they focus on running their business and serving their customers, not their technology problems.

Upgrade: 100% Complete? 100% Upgraded?

The project was a success! The new network design and subsequent overhaul enhanced the Firm’s operational productivity by creating a highly adaptable (and now reliable) foundation to work on.

Choosing eSudo and moving to Hybrid Cloud Solutions allowed the Firm to have easier remote access, lower overall technology costs, better response time, and more productive employees.
eSudo’s work was met with rave reviews from many, especially the Firm’s partners;

The migration to the Cloud has paid off in other ways. To me, the real value is the flexibility, scalability, and peace of mind. We don’t have to constantly worry about the server failing or whether backup of our files are done on a regular basis. We selected eSudo not only as our implementation partner, but also as our managed services provider because we view eSudo as a long- term partner. Any relationship begins and ends with trust, and eSudo has proven themselves time and again.

eSudo Can Help You Too

If your firm or business is considering an upgrade, please contact Matthew Kaing at eSudo (www.eSudo.com) or 408-216-5800 for a complimentary assessment.

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