Some cloud computing proponents speak of cloud computing as if it’s the ideal solution to all your IT problems. However, as we all know, nothing is perfect and cloud computing is no exception. While it offers many benefits, as with anything else, flip the “benefits” on their head you’ll find corresponding drawbacks that are also worthy of careful consideration.
However, a brief comparison of the benefits and risks may be useful to law firms seeking to incorporate cloud computing services into their practice. This week, let’s consider some of the benefits and next week we’ll address some of the drawbacks.
First, there are cost-saving benefits. With cloud computing, there’s no need to purchase servers and software; no need to pay expensive annual licensing fees or software upgrade fees; no need to hire IT staff to maintain the servers, address concerns regarding the security of the environment and stay on top of software updates.
Second, cloud computing can simplify computing for many law offices. For firms with an existing IT infrastructure, cloud-based software programs can reduce IT complexity, especially where IT departments are heavily taxed.
Likewise, for law practices just starting out, with no pre-existing software (aka “legacy”) systems in place, it’s relatively simple matter to create an effective practice management system from the ground up using cloud-based software programs. Simply sign up for the SaaS product(s) that you’ve chosen, log into your account(s) and you’re all set.
Third, there’s the benefit of scalability. As your law firm grows, there’s no need to invest in additional servers, IT staff or hardware to handle the increased processing demands. Instead, it can be as simple as adding more users to your account.
Finally, cloud computing systems provide increased flexibility for the end user since cloud computing services are accessed via an Internet connection from anywhere, at anytime. Similarly, unlike desktop or server-based software systems, cloud-based platforms can be used on any type of computer or Internet-enabled device, using any type of operating system. As long as you can access the Internet, you can access your files.
Of course, there are issues requiring some consideration before choosing to implement a cloud-based system into your law practice. Next week, we’ll consider some of the risks of cloud computing, hopefully helping you to balance the various factors and make the right choice for your law firm.