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6 Effective Ways to Evaluate Your On-Premise Law Software

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On-premise legal software can be traced back to major inefficiencies in the way modern law firms are managed - often subjecting attorneys to more technological and financial grief than inherent value. In this presentation, we walk you through the considerations of on-premise vs. cloud-based solutions for your law firm.

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6 Effective Ways to Evaluate Your On-Premise Law Software

  1. 1. 6 Effective Ways to Evaluate Your On-Premise Law Software
  2. 2. About Our Presenter Kevin F. Ryan, Esq. Executive Director Monroe County Bar Association Rochester, NY
  3. 3. Outline I. Cost -- upfront, monthly/periodic, long-term II. Security, incl. mobile accessibility III. Functionality -- implementation, customization, portability IV.Connectivity V. Ethics VI.Questions
  4. 4. Definitions On-premise software Installed locally on firm’s own computers and servers Cloud-based software Hosted on vendor’s servers and accessed through a web browser
  5. 5. Other Key Differences Pricing • On-premise -- one-time perpetual license fee, with recurring fees • Cloud -- monthly or annual subscription, with recurring fees Accounting • On-premise -- capital expenditure • Cloud -- operating expenditure
  6. 6. Pitfalls and Comparisons Situations differ My focus: comparisons to help you decide Along the way: things to worry about (pitfalls)
  7. 7. Cost
  8. 8. Kinds of Costs Pay attention to three types of cost: 1. Upfront 2. Monthly/periodic 3. Long-term
  9. 9. On-Premise • Higher upfront startup cost • Monthly or periodic costs • Ongoing hardware/software investment
  10. 10. Cloud • Lower upfront investment • Predictable costs over time • No additional hardware investments
  11. 11. Long-Term Cost Long-term costs of cloud might be greater Key: How much attention are you willing to pay (or pay for)? Upgrade costs built into cloud-based products
  12. 12. The Frequent Upgrader Do you typically upgrade with every new release? • If so, cloud and on-premise similar in price • Upgrade fees can add up quickly • Cloud keeps you current • Minimal or zero cost
  13. 13. The Hesitant Upgrader Or do you wait to upgrade until you have to? • Unwilling to pay for marginal improvements • No longer supported or otherwise forced to upgrade • Here, long-term cost advantage to on- premise
  14. 14. A Word About Servers Servers have multiple uses in a law firm A. As an application server (accounting system on the server); B. As a storage system (store your files); C. As a domain controller (managing & enforcing access restrictions, etc.)
  15. 15. Cloud as Server • Excellent as application server (practice management software, email, etc.) • Good as storage server (particularly when connected with onsite storage) • Domain controller services??
  16. 16. Reading the Future Currently, development focused on cloud- based services, rather than on-premise applications • On-premise applications will see less development and fewer new features
  17. 17. And so . . . If this trend continues: • Cost of on-premise applications will be increasingly unpredictable • Patches, upgrades, and ongoing support likely to decline • Increasing costs over time
  18. 18. Pitfall # 1 Don’t forget hidden and long-term costs of sticking with on-premise practice management software
  19. 19. Security
  20. 20. On-Premise Security • More control in the hands of the firm • Is that good? o Requires work & resources • Monitoring access • Updating server operating systems • Updating software & dealing with bugs • Adding patches • Personnel costs and/or contract with outside IT
  21. 21. Security in the Cloud • More secure o Data security in hands of vendor • Trained staff • Large budgets o Physical security: coded locks, security for all personnel who have access to enter, video security, alarm systems, etc.
  22. 22. Security and Hackers Two types of hackers ○ Skilled computer programmer involved in technology & programming subculture (“hacker culture”) -- generally good ○ Someone who uses bugs or exploits to break into security systems -- some good, some bad
  23. 23. Comparative Vulnerability Cloud services bigger target for “bad” hackers • BUT on-site always more vulnerable o Despite today’s tools and good IT companies • Cloud services can pay for more extensive & up-to-date security
  24. 24. Security: A Final Word Important to have a data-recovery plan even if using cloud-based services
  25. 25. Pitfall # 2 Don’t be unrealistic about what you can do to provide security for your systems
  26. 26. Problem: Mobile Accessibility Both a security & functionality concern On-premise • Need third-party client to communicate between mobile device & on-premise software o Another point for security breaches o Making it all work together smoothly
  27. 27. Cloud Mobility With the cloud . . . • Easier to access from remote locations o Allow lawyers & staff to work away from office o Meet client expectations o Two-edged sword
  28. 28. Remember . . . Your security is only as good as the protocols you have in place and willingness of the users to follow those protocols.
  29. 29. Pitfall # 3 Don’t ignore the special security issues raised by mobile devices -- and don’t exaggerate your ability to handle it internally
  30. 30. Functionality
  31. 31. Functionality The Issues: • Implementation • Customization • Portability
  32. 32. Implementation On-premise • Disadvantages of piecemeal implementation o Finding, sorting, choosing the options o Coordinating implementation Cloud • Takes less time to implement • All done at once
  33. 33. Cloudy Customization Cloud less customizable -- but that’s good • General (small & mid-size firms) vs. specific needs (large firms) • Greater stability & continual updates by vendor -- often automatically • Work with vendor to make desired changes
  34. 34. Customizing On-Premise On-premise more easily customized, but . . . • Implementation delayed while customization occurs • Revisiting customization when vendors upgrade software
  35. 35. Portability On-Site • Not as functional for remote work o Local network + (we hope) VPN connection Cloud • Anywhere there is a secure connection o Often supplied by the vendor
  36. 36. Pitfall # 4 Don’t downplay the problems associated with implementation, customization, and portability of on-premise systems
  37. 37. Connectivity
  38. 38. Where Are You? Advantages of cloud-based systems can be undercut by location
  39. 39. On-Premise Connectivity Local servers & networks pretty reliable -- absent bad management or intentional attack
  40. 40. Whadya Got? Bandwidth Need fast (and likely more expensive) broadband connection • NOTE: programs with large files (CAD, graphics, etc.) do not work as well in cloud -- slow, even with large “pipe” • Local can be quicker
  41. 41. Business Never Stops With the cloud . . . If Internet is down in office, can work from elsewhere (home, etc.) • Continuity of business (even in disasters) • NOTE: increased security risk
  42. 42. Pitfall # 5 Don’t be unrealistic about your Internet capabilities, but recognize the advantages offered by cloud systems
  43. 43. Ethics
  44. 44. Confidentiality Ethics require you to take reasonable steps to protect client information • NOTE: not a guarantee -- perfect security not required
  45. 45. Can You Do It? Can your firm handle attacks on your local server? • Subject to same attacks as cloud-based system • Generally “No” for small to medium-size law firm
  46. 46. In the Cloud Probably better off relying on a company that has a significant security department Ethical obligation to assess security of cloud- based company
  47. 47. Pitfall # 6 Never forget your obligation to safeguard client information -- are you confident you can do it yourself?
  48. 48. The End Special thanks to: • Jim Knapp • Cheryl Nelan • Nicole Black
  49. 49. Questions?