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Going Cloud: Time to Take that Leap?

Mary Rechtoris

The cloud, a concept that used to give many of us pause, has made major strides in recent years. It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was scrambling to remember my Apple ID password at the AT&T store and the technician-turned-new-best-friend, Tom, asked if I backed up my information on the cloud. After several unsuccessful attempts at using variations of my dog’s name, I looked at him helplessly and said, “I honestly don’t know, Tom. What really is the cloud?”

This was way back in 2012, when Gangnam Style was the biggest hit. In 2018, you would be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t know about the cloud. Sixty-two percent of companies said they will run 100 percent of their information technology in the cloud by 2020. Despite the legal profession being a bit slower to adopt technological innovation, many leaders in the space are seeing significant growth in interest in cloud-based services.

“Having conversations with clients about the cloud is much easier now than it was 12 or 24 months ago,” said Chris Haley, director of legal technology of Troutman Sanders eMerge, a RelativityOne customer. “The growing acceptance has allowed us to leverage the advantages of the cloud over the past two years.”

Glenn Barden, senior director of Relativity consulting at FTI Consulting, a RelativityOne Certified Partner, echoed this sentiment: “Over the last two or three years, we began to find that more of our clients were already storing large quantities of their data in the cloud, as they became more aware of the benefits the cloud can provide.”

Calculating the Pluses and Minuses

While it is indisputable that more organizations are moving to the cloud, I wondered: “Why now?” The answer, at least in part, comes down to costs. The overall investment of a cloud-based software may offset the cost of running infrastructure in-house, which requires organizations to fund the hardware and a team of specialists to manage it.

“If businesses can avoid employing a large group of people to stand up their infrastructure by moving to the cloud, that is often a financially attractive option,” Glenn said. “Even if companies aren’t currently on the cloud, they are certainly now looking at the pluses and minuses of these investments.”

For Troutman Sanders eMerge, the overall value of cloud services and RelativityOne for e-discovery is better than traditional infrastructure solutions. Rather than paying a large upfront cost for the hardware and the significant ongoing costs to maintain that infrastructure, the firm pays for the capacity that they use, when they need it. This is essential as Chris noted that the amount of data that eMerge processes and manages varies considerably from day to day.

“Having the ability to add computing power on-demand in a world where we have all these cost pressures to deliver services at lower costs but faster speeds has been essential,” Chris said. “If you add up all the costs for the talent, expertise, 24/7 monitoring, security controls, redundancy, disaster recovery, ongoing improvements, and maintenance in addition to the hardware and software itself that goes into owning your infrastructure, making a true apples-to-apples comparison, then the cloud may cost less for many use cases.”

Expanding Across the Globe with the Cloud

The cloud is often an important asset for companies seeking to grow their footprint, as it allows them to seamlessly share information. On the heels of RelativityOne’s launch in Hong Kong earlier this month, FTI became the first firm to launch a RelativityOne instance in the region. Having the cloud streamlines their workflow, as they can now link instances together as opposed to having to create a new template for each region.

“Having a global playbook where our processes are consistent and defensible is very important to us. RelativityOne has enabled us to streamline the updating of our templates worldwide—if we have a case template in the US and want to use that for a matter in the UK, it is easy to send that template over,” Glenn said. “The cloud assists our fully global offering and we are seeing the benefits grow as we get Hong Kong on board with Relativity.”

Troutman Sanders eMerge sees the numerous benefits they can accrue from using the cloud to support their global clientele. As RelativityOne moves to other regions, the firm can deploy a Relativity instance “wherever and whenever,” according to Chris.

But, What About Security?

The question over the cloud’s security deterred many organizations from going “all in” on a cloud investment. Slowly but surely, organizations have become more trusting of the cloud. While only 23 percent of organizations in 2017 said that they wholly trust public clouds to keep their data secure, the acceptance rate is 76 percent higher than the prior year.

“If you are a smaller company, the notion was if you had something on-premise, then it was de facto more secure,” Glenn said. “There is now the understanding that this may not be the case. Especially when you have large vendors like Microsoft staking their reputation on the cloud.”

Microsoft’s bet on the cloud seems to be paying off; the company’s commercial cloud revenue jumped 88 percent in the fourth quarter of last year. RelativityOne is built on Microsoft Azure due to its ability to protect sensitive data in a secure platform. Chris noted that a large number of their clients are moving to Microsoft Office 365; having e-discovery services in the same location within the Microsoft cloud is the natural next step.

Transitioning services to the cloud often relieves the burden on internal teams who are tasked with meticulously monitoring their infrastructure to flag any potential data breaches. Threat actors are becoming more sophisticated and, often, firewalls that organizations put in place years—or even months—ago do not prevent cyberattacks.

“The number of hacking incidents that have made the news over the past few years has increased awareness to the importance of security. Preventing attacks has become increasingly critical, and increasingly falls at the feet of senior leadership, rather than internal IT teams,” Glenn added.

Chris noted that eMerge looked to the cloud to provide their clients the highest level of security, adding: “When we look at the type of security our clients deserve and what we want to provide to our clients, leveraging the large team of security experts at Relativity and Microsoft when using RelativityOne gives us the instant level of security we are looking for.”

Having ISO 27001 certification provides organizations a competitive edge as it reassures their clients and business partners that they abide by the necessary security measures to safeguard their information management security systems. In Chris’s opinion, the effort and requirements to obtain ISO 27001 are greatly reduced when the infrastructure and systems that you rely on are already ISO 270001 certified, like RelativityOne.

Chris said: “The ISO 27001 process, with private infrastructure instead of the RelativityOne platform, would require a substantial increase in energy, time, and effort to create all the documentation and put in place the controls necessary to pass the audit.”

Maintaining What Makes Your Offering Unique

Many organizations put a good amount of legwork into creating custom applications on top of Relativity. As a company, we celebrate these applications in our annual Innovation Awards at Relativity Fest and encourage our community to continue innovating on the platform. Chris noted that, when considering RelativityOne, Troutman Sanders said the ability to use their multiple applications and customizations on the platform was of the utmost importance.

“No Relativity customer is precisely the same and the maturity of RelativityOne allowed us to maintain our unique identity,” Chris said. “Our custom applications and years of expertise with Relativity are two important reasons why clients choose eMerge.”

The benefits of a cloud investment are numerous and as more information is stored in the cloud, organizations may find that they fall behind their competitors when they fail to offer cloud-based services.

“When people see something they don’t know, that may be frightening,” Glenn said. “But, with continued maintenance and hardware costs, together with security implications becoming more visible, those factors often outweigh the reluctance to change.”

While fear of the unknown may seem overwhelming, it may be time to take that leap.

Find out more: Chris Haley and Glenn Barden will share their thoughts on their journeys to the cloud and various factors to consider when making this move in a panel titled “Going Cloud” at Relativity Fest London on May 1. Save your spot to attend for free.

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Mary Rechtoris is a senior producer on the brand team at Relativity, where she's always collaborating and looking for new ways to develop and socialize stories.