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5 Mistakes Lawyers Make When Choosing a Cloud Service Provider (and how to fix them)

A few months back, one of our Senior Systems Engineers and I sat down with an existing client who was considering moving their law firm to our All-Inclusive Private Cloud. Like any good attorney would, our client spent a lot of time researching and presented us with a few articles pertaining specifically to law firms and the cloud. One in particular really struck me as a valuable piece of information. The article was published by Abacus Law and was entitled "The 5 Biggest Mistakes Lawyers Make When Choosing a Cloud Service Provider (and how to fix them)." I was overjoyed to read this article, as I quickly noticed that Electro-America's All-Inclusive Private Cloud meets or exceeds all of the criteria mentioned. I've outlined the concerns addressed in the article, as well as the benefits that our cloud model offers to law firms:

1. Not knowing where your data really lives. This is extremely important! Moving to a cloud-based system means that your data/infrastructure is going from being stored and maintained in-house to being stored and maintained in your cloud service provider's data center. It is of the utmost importance to know where exactly the data center holding your infrastructure is located, especially when many public cloud and SaaS (Software as a Service) providers use third party and/or off-shore data centers. You should know the location of your data center and the security regulations that data center is required to meet.

How we compare: Electro-America's All-Inclusive Private Cloud is hosted in our partner data center, which is NJ-based. Our data center is SSAE 16 & SOC audited, HIPAA and HITECH compliant, PCI DSS 3.0 compliant, and meets the requirements of US‐EU Safe Harbor framework. We welcome any prospective client to take a tour of the data center and see for themselves not only where their data will be held, but also the superior level of security offered by our data center.

2. Assuming you own your data. You'd think this would be a given, but unfortunately it's not. Abacus Law's article highlights that "in 2011, DropBox updated it's terms of service to include language that permitted Dropbox ownership rights over its users’ data when stored in the cloud. (Ownership quickly reverted back to the users in response to public outcry, as Dropbox backpedaled to explain to users that it only needed access for administrative purposes)."

How we compare: Electro-America's service agreement explicitly states that all data hosted on our private cloud belongs to the client and that we make zero claim to that data whatsoever. If the client provides software licensing outside of what we include on the cloud, that belongs to them as well. Our service agreement also includes the ways in which to terminate your agreement and exactly how your data will be returned to you, which is not always clear in other service agreements.

3. Neglecting to integrate all of your systems / Relying on multiple parties for support and maintenance: Software as a Service (SaaS) has become incredibly popular. Probably one of the biggest draws is that it allows people to use and pay for software on a subscription-based model. The subscription typically includes upgrades and maintenance, which adds value since the user no longer has to worry about upgrading and maintaining in-house. The problem is that when you have too many SaaS subscriptions, things can start to get a little hairy for businesses, especially law firms. For example, you have QuickBooks Online, Office 365, an online practice management software, and an online document management system. That's FOUR cloud-based systems with FOUR different support teams with FOUR different variations for security, support, backup, accessibility, etc. Imagine how much finger-pointing would take place if an issue were to arise?

How we compare: At Electro-America, we've consistently referred to ourselves as a "one-stop-shop" for all of your business/legal technology needs, simplifying IT since 1984. Our All-Inclusive Private Cloud includes or integrates with most business, financial, and legal software applications. All of our cloud clients have access to all of the programs they need to operate efficiently. (References available).

4. Focusing only on price, disregarding best practices: I couldn't describe it better than the article, so here goes- "Businesses in every industry see a low price and get excited about potential cost savings, neglecting to realize the long-term implications of choosing a sub-par service and vendor. While there are cloud vendors offering service for only pennies on the dollar per month, these services do not include Best Practices for Cloud Technology such as 5 tiers of security, a OC2/SSAE16 certified Data Center, inherent redundancy and disaster recovery, managed backups," not to mention guaranteed up-time.

How we compare: When I read this portion of the article I was ecstatic. Why? 1) Because this is a MAJOR point. Could you find a cheaper cloud service than Electro-America's? Probably, (although we're exceptionally competitive). You'll be hard-pressed, however, to find one that is all-inclusive in the way that ours is, puts you on your own dedicated servers, and includes the superior level of support and rapid response time for which we are known. 2) Because Electro-America's All-Inclusive Private Cloud meets all of the criteria mentioned above, meaning our service is exceedingly prepared to securely support the legal community while guaranteeing 99.99% up-time.

If your firm is considering a move to the cloud, but has concerns about security, management, support, etc., I encourage you to reach out so we can address those concerns! Let us show you how Electro-America, Inc., can help your firm to save money, avoid headaches, and increase productivity with our All-Inclusive Private Cloud.

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