LegalCloud™, a private dedicated virtual server and desktop solution for law firms.

Tuesday, April 12th, 2016 | LegalCloud, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure | Scott Randall

Advanced Legal is very excited to announce the launch of LegalCloud™, a private dedicated virtual server and desktop solution for law firms. Many cloud hosting packages do not offer dedicated virtual servers or utilize technology that maximizes performance. We do, and that, along with our legal specific expertise is setting our LegalCloud packages apart. While LegalCloud is now available as a package that can be completely customized to fit the needs of your firm, we have been successfully hosting virtualized server and desktop environments for years.

The migration to cloud based applications has been gaining momentum but users always gravitate to having their core applications function locally to avoid the inevitable fragmentation that happens when data is stored in different locations and integration is forced if available at all. Toss in multiple office locations, remote users and a wide variety of devices and you lose security, productivity and have disjointed functionality. This scenario has been at the core of the branch office struggle for at least the past 20 years. Finally, both virtualized server and desktop technology, in conjunction with internet data speeds, have developed to the point that a seamless environment is not only possible, but affordable for firms of all sizes.

There are still a lot of myths and misconceptions floating around out there. I am going to explore the advantages of migrating to a hosted, virtual desktop environment as well as take a look at the changes that users and the firm culture need to be prepared for. Here is a run-down of how this plays out in the real, all be it, “virtual” world.

 

The Advantages:

Enterprise Level Security & Dedicated Virtual Servers

Your data will be hosted in the largest and most powerful and protected data center in the U.S. With 50+ telecom providers and over 4000 fibers, LegalCloud offers unmatched connectivity in the industry. With LegalCloud, servers are allocated and designed based on roles and functions specific to your firm. All data is backed up and encrypted coming and going with an option to replicate data at an additional secure location.

Flexibility & Scalability

New virtual desktop configurations can be brought up quickly to accommodate growth or changes in staffing. Monthly costs are adjusted to reflect current user and server counts. New images can be created for software upgrades or changes and testing can be done simultaneously, without setting up an entirely new network.

Avoid Costly Hardware & Software Refreshes

Moving to the cloud turns your technology into an operating cost instead of a capital expenditure on a 5-7 year cycle. Virtual desktops run on thin clients and the LegalCloud subscription agreement provides access to all Microsoft licensing for a monthly fee. Apps that are available as a subscription license, such as iManage for document management, also function this way and become an operating expense. Any other applications or licenses the firm uses and has purchased outright, such as ProLaw for case management, can be migrated to the image and will work as seamlessly as if it were locally installed on the desktop.

Simplified Maintenance & Customization

Multiple virtual desktop images allow customization for practice groups or differentiation between attorney and legal support staff requirements. Multiple versions of software can be run simultaneously to test application compatibility and upgrades to the latest and greatest from Microsoft, ProLaw, iManage and other key vendors without disrupting user productivity. With LegalCloud network management becomes turnkey, servers are managed and standardized desktop images do not require the troubleshooting that is often necessary in a traditional workstation environment. Standardization will hands-down save the firm money on maintenance and support costs.

Consistent User Experience Across Device & Location

LegalCloud provides users with the ability to login from any device, regardless of location, and experience the same virtual desktop. Multiple office locations and remote users have the same experience accessing data and applications from wherever they need to work. This is especially excellent for firms that have a mix of Windows and Apple operating systems across the many desktops, laptops, tablets and phones accessing the network.

 

The Changes:

Reliance on internet connectivity for access to network, applications and data:

Reliable and redundant internet connectivity is both widely available and affordable for law firms of all sizes. Internet speed requirements will be calculated based on both the number of users as well as the type and volume of data the firm regularly handles. We can then work with your telecom provider to assure excellent performance and reliability.

Printing and scanning functionality is standardized in the desktop image:

Devices must be properly configured in the image and use standardized settings. Users must get accustomed to thinking about the relationship between the virtual desktop and the physical hardware that sits on their desk. The two are not inherently connected so printers and devices that were previously available from their desktop will not be available unless they are specifically set-up as part of the virtual desktop image. A solid and detailed migration plan will take into account all peripherals that users are accustomed to using and ensure they are properly configured and available from the new virtual desktop images.

Video/Graphics Processing:

With LegalCloud, and any virtual desktop infrastructure, the physical desktop is not providing any of the processing power, including rendering graphics. Special consideration must be made and processing power added to the server infrastructure so that users can utilize applications like Google Maps or photo editing software successfully.

Separation of the physical desktop and desktop image:

Functionality like uploading or downloading files from a USB thumb drive directly to the desktop are not possible in a virtual desktop environment. When you think about it from a security perspective this is really ok because it is a dangerous practice in either direction that is difficult for firms to tightly control. Along with the standardization of a virtual desktop also comes the standardization of the ways data can enter the network. These sanctioned methods are more effectively controlled by both IT and management to ensure security and privacy.

Individual users cannot install new software or applications on their desktop. Again, that is ok and an important part of the standardization that a virtual desktop environment provides. New software can only be added through the image. This is the best way for the firm to control what apps are being used, maintain standardization and avoid security risks or productivity and incompatibility issues caused by rogue users installing new software that has not been tested on the network.

Choosing a partner:

When choosing to migrate to the cloud you need a partner that will provide not only the infrastructure but also the expertise to complete a successful migration and support your firm in the long run. This includes the experience to avoid pitfalls and help your firm move through both the detailed decision making and the resulting changes to workflow. Advanced Legal’s technical team and the Legal Cloud platform deliver both the infrastructure and the experience to ensure success. For more information about LegalCloud Contact Us

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