More and more legal firms are choosing to deploy their core Practice Management Systems via the cloud or on managed hosting, rather than choosing the traditional route of keeping IT infrastructure onsite. At one time, no one would have considered risking putting their central PMS out to an external hoster – but now it is becoming the norm.
As experienced hosters of a range of Practice Management Systems, what are we seeing as the main reasons firms are choosing to host their Practice Management Systems with a cloud or hosting provider?
If C24 was running for government, our motto would be “Security, security, security”. You can never be too careful when it comes to the security of your Practice Management System, as it contains key information needed for your firm to operate. The security of many hosting providers now outstrips that of traditional in-house datacentres which is why many firms are realising that it’s not only cheaper to run their PMS system externally, it’s also more secure. How many legal firms have a datacentre that has 24/7 security guards patrolling, highly secure perimeter fencing and strict access policies and guidelines at all times?
2. Multi-location capability
Cloud offers firms more options and flexibility when it comes to organisations who have multiple office locations. Having servers located in house may work well for a one office firm, but if you need the same resources to be consumed by multiple branches then it can become problematic for IT teams to put in place a solution that is secure and accessible to all users. Hosting centres can act as the central hub for firms who need everyone on the same page from an IT perspective, but don’t have their own centralised datacentre facility.
3. Choice of suppliers to match your size and scale
Cloud and hosting providers come in many different sizes, shapes and forms – from SAAS players to traditional infrastructure hosting providers. The beauty of this means that firms have an extensive choice when deciding on the right provider for them, compared to buying hardware from a multinational corporation where the legal firm may be a small company in comparison. Legal organisations can now choose a supplier who is similar to them in terms of size and scale, whilst leveraging the hosting provider’s own vendor and software relationships. This works particularly well for firms who may not have a large central hub, but instead consist of a number of smaller branches working together.
4. Software is starting on the cloud, not ending up there
The benefits of cloud for Practice Management Systems is not just being realised by consumers but also by suppliers. Many software vendors are choosing to develop their solutions straight onto cloud platforms and for some providers it is their only go-to-market strategy. This is due to the lower entry costs and the ability to offer a more holistic solution to customers. For legal firms, this means that apps now don’t have to be specially ported and changed to suit the cloud, they are often already optimised for hosted delivery.
5. Real partnerships are becoming more valuable as technology gets more complex
As technology solutions become ever more complex, the value of a trusted tech partner is increasing for legal firms – who require providers to act as an extension of their internal IT teams. Rather than operating a traditional supplier-customer model for hardware, firms are recognising the benefits that partnering with a hosting provider can bring over the long term – opening them up to new technology options and considerations alongside leveraging other tech solutions across the industry. Firms can now consume services from a ‘community’ of suppliers who collaborate to offer wider, legal sector specific solutions.
6. Interoperability and integration with other apps becoming more important
Cloud offers a level of standardisation – after all if multiple apps need to sit side by side on a platform, however proprietary the architecture, there must be an element of standardisation in place. This means that firms can consume other applications alongside their PMS solutions, all delivered through the cloud or under one contract. And certain hosting providers, like C24, offer firms the opportunity to outsource the entire infrastructure layer to their external hosting centres, leaving internal IT teams free to focus on business-specific activities rather than hardware support and monitoring.
7. Mobile users don’t miss out
Another feature of hosting solutions is the ability to be accessed from anywhere, usually from just a web login or via a remote desktop service. As more employees work from home and offices become an expensive resource, firms are looking for solutions that align with their mobility strategies, and cloud is often the perfect choice.
Did we miss anything out? What would make your legal firm choose cloud over in-house deployment?