​​The legal industry’s complete hybrid cloud guide

by | Sep 17, 2020 | Blog, Cloud computing, Hybrid cloud

An impressive 96 percent of business now use the cloud.

But, choosing between on-prem, private, public, and hybrid solutions isn’t always a straightforward decision. 
For law firms, however, it’s an important decision to explore. That’s because many are eager to modernise their systems and take advantage of what that the cloud has to offer, such as easy scalability and improved cost management. 
However, with large amounts of sensitive client information, many law firms have been slow to modernise. Other pressures in the legal sector, such as a squeeze on profits, make it important to find a solution that ticks all the boxes. Indeed, according to a report from PWC:
‘There continues to be significant pressure on profits in the UK legal sector.’ 
With these facts in mind, legal firms have important choices to make when building a cloud environment that serves them. To help shed light on the situation, we’ve assembled a complete overview on the hybrid cloud from the legal industry’s perspective. 
Table of contents
  • Public cloud pros and cons
  • Introducing the hybrid cloud (having your cake and eating it too)
  • What is the hybrid cloud?
  • Hybrid cloud benefits
  • Why hybrid is a compelling solution for the modern law firm
  • Why go it alone if you don’t have to?

Public cloud pros and cons

Let’s first look at the pros and cons of the public cloud. Then, we’ll take a closer look at what a hybrid cloud solution has to offer. 
Benefit #1: High scalability
Perhaps the biggest reason to move to the public cloud is its simplified scalability. 
With an on-premise architecture, you have to purchase the hardware, manage the location, and pay your IT team (and then manage them) to look after it. That’s a tricky operation to scale when you need to, particularly when your office only has so much space to store hardware. 
However, with a cloud solution, you can free up your workspace and quickly scale your access to storage and compute. This means you’ll have more agility to deliver your projects and digital transformations. 
So, both private and public clouds are highly scalable compared to an on-prem solution. But it’s also important to note that public cloud is still more scalable than private, offering near-unlimited resources. 
Benefit #2: Low cost (and easy cost management)
Controlling and predicting your cloud costs is easy when you choose a pay-as-you-go service. You only pay for spinning up servers and accessing the resources you need. This means that your firm can avoid over or under spending on your IT. 
When you choose public cloud over private cloud, you’ll enjoy still greater financial savings. This is because cloud providers can drive greater economies of scale with the public cloud, and it’s a less complex service for them to deliver. 
Benefit #3: Maximum uptime
Every public cloud platform promises more than 99 percent uptime. With multiple servers backing each other up, your cloud environment is almost perfectly reliable. 
This smooth performance gives you IT confidence and will allow your employees to stay productive throughout the working week. Naturally, this means there’s no risk of annoying clients as a result of an intermittent service. 
Downside #1: Perceived data security and control issues
As you know, law firms must handle client and case information with the utmost care. 
Unfortunately, some clients might have the opinion that the public cloud feels more ‘open’ than they’d like for their sensitive files. And although this isn’t the case, as the public cloud is secure, the perception can still be damaging. 
Downside #2: Reduced customisation
The public cloud can lack the customisation that some firms might want. 
Alternatives, like on-prem and private cloud, can offer greater visibility and control of an IT infrastructure. This can make it easier to look after workloads that are compliance sensitive. 

Introducing the hybrid cloud (having your cake and eating it too)

Some law firms are happy with an on-prem or private infrastructure and the data control that it offers. For others, the scalability of the public cloud is appealing and the lower price keeps them within budget. 
This leaves many businesses in a quandary, as both options are appealing in their own way.
The answer? Use a combination of options as part of a hybrid cloud infrastructure.

What is the hybrid cloud?

Here’s a definition of hybrid cloud: 
Hybrid cloud is some combination of on-prem, public and private clouds to create a mixed IT infrastructure. It provides flexibility to businesses so they can get the compute and storage from on-prem or either cloud. This means organisations can enjoy the benefits of all options – with the lower cost and higher scalability of public cloud, and the higher control and customisation of private cloud, and/or on-prem. 
With hybrid cloud adoption at 58 percent, and the projected market value of hybrid cloud in 2025 at £98 billion, it’s clear that many organisations are bullish on a hybrid solution.

Hybrid cloud benefits

Modernising your technology can sometimes feel like a compromise. Fortunately, the hybrid cloud is a solution that ticks many boxes.
Here’s a closer look at why the hybrid cloud is worth considering: 
  • High scalability. On-premise only architectures only work for businesses that aren’t looking to grow. For others, the scalability of hybrid cloud is appealing. Thanks to its access to the near-unlimited potential of public cloud, you can do almost anything you want, whether it’s scaling up your storage or provisioning a new client-facing application. 
  • Data security and control. Your law firm needs to handle its sensitive data meticulously and follow stringent data regulations, such as the GDPR. With this in mind, it’s helpful to choose EU or UK data centres as others won’t always follow GDPR guidelines. Crucially, whether you choose public or private cloud, you’ll enjoy excellent data security. 
  • Cost reduction. In a sector that’s experiencing a squeeze, law firms need to do what they can to manage costs intelligently. Indeed, revenue in the UK legal sector has dropped to a four-year low. The hybrid cloud brings the reduced costs of going from on-premises to the cloud. And, it gives you further savings by giving you access to a lower cost public cloud environment. 
  • Flexibility and continuity. As we’ve seen with the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s important to have a business infrastructure that can accommodate remote working and the modern workplace. You need to deliver your client services on time, no matter what. A hybrid cloud solution can be a key part of your resilient new business infrastructure. 
The bottom line is: your business can have the best of both worlds with hybrid cloud.

Why hybrid is compelling solution for the modern law firm

It’s important for law firms to modernise so they can take advantage of new technologies that help them increase efficiency, productivity and reduce costs. But in order to modernise, they need more resources. 
With technologies such as Big Data, AI and machine learning now becoming a part of many law firms, there’s a need to scale up resources quickly, easily, and cost efficiently. From here, firms can take advantage of the growing list of new cloud-based applications, such as AI powered timekeeping for lawyers, which will help them stay competitive and productive. 
Unfortunately, a sector-wide fear of data security limitations has at times slowed progress in the legal sector. This is understandable, as law firms have to stay the right side of many sector-specific regulations in addition to broader regulations that affect every organisation, such as GDPR. 
It can be a complicated landscape for a law firm to navigate. If you’d like a detailed guide on the cloud computing risks facing the legal sector and how to mitigate them, download our in-depth guide. 
But, for any firm, a hybrid cloud solution could be part of the solution. Put simply, it empowers firms to embrace new technologies whilst retaining close control of sensitive data.

Why go it alone if you don’t have to?

With the combined benefits of hybrid cloud, there’s not much for your modern law firm to dislike. You can retain control with on-prem or the private cloud, all while scaling cost-effectively with the public cloud. 
That said, it can be challenging to set up and manage these environments effectively. It isn’t something you can ask your IT team to set-up between their other projects – it requires the right expertise and time. 
To take full advantage of hybrid cloud and get this right the first time, it’s helpful to rely on experts who have been there and done it. If you have the option to, why not make use of those who know the IT requirements of the legal sector through years of hard-won experience? 
So, if you’d like a call with our expert team to learn about how Chalkline can help your law firm step into the future with a hybrid cloud solution, reach out today. Or, if you want to learn more about how to deliver digital transformations successfully, download our complete guide below.

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