What are the hosting options for legal practice management software?
A law firm has a number of options when it comes to how and where they host their legal practice management software. Firstly, does the firm go with cloud or on-premise? If they go with the cloud do they choose browser-run or cloud-desktop? Then finally they must choose the type of cloud; public, private, hybrid or multiclouds. All of these decisions are of a technical nature. With a good software partner the law firm’s users shouldn’t notice the difference wherever and however the software is hosted. The functionality, look and feel of the software remains exactly the same from any location, via any device supported device. This blog explains all the options.
What do the terms ‘cloud’ and ‘on-premise’ mean for law firms?
Firstly, there is a choice between whether to host your software on the cloud or on-premise (sometimes referred to as on-premises).
- On-premise: Firms can choose to host and manage their software on their own inhouse servers, located on their own premises and manage their IT infrastructure themselves, with their own IT staff / teams. This is known as on-premise (or sometimes on-premises or inhouse hosting). If this route is taken, software licences are purchased and the software will be installed onto the law firm’s computers, and users will log in to the firm’s servers to access it.
- Cloud: Alternatively, law firms can outsource the management and hosting of their business software to a trusted tech partner, via one of several cloud computing options. This is known as ‘software-as-service’ (SaaS). This means the firm’s staff will access their legal practice management software online, via a secure internet connection.
Should a law firm choose Browser-run software over cloud desktop?
The choices don’t end there. Law firms that wish to go down the cloud route have an array of cloud options to consider.
So next, the firm needs to decide whether browser-run software or cloud-desktop software (also known as as Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP)) is best for the business.
- ‘Browser-run’ softwareprograms that reside on servers typically located outside your own local network, but accessed and run via the internet, via your local desktop device. The web page your users see, via their browsers, provide a user interface by which your staff control and run the cloud-based software and process cloud-based data via their desktop device.
- ‘Virtual desktop’ uses Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) and Remote Desktop Services (RDS) to connect desktop PCs, laptops (and other thin and fat clients) to operating systems and applications that are running on a remote server in the cloud. This enables all processing to be done in the cloud whilst the desktop device only requires enough resource to display a picture (i.e. graphics) to the user to show on their local desktop screen what’s happening in the software in the cloud.
Which type of cloud is most suitable for a law firm?
The next decision is about which cloud type to opt for. There are three main cloud types for law firms to consider:
Public Cloud is an on-demand, subscription-based, computing infrastructure owned and managed by a third-party provider and shared with multiple organisations over the internet. Examples of well-known public cloud provides are – Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud.
Private clouds are dedicated to a single organisation. They are often behind the organisation’s own firewall completely isolated from other organisations and their users. You can build a private cloud on-premise, or you can rent a private cloud at a datacentre.
Hybrid Clouds & Multiclouds
Both integrate more than one cloud. The difference is a hybrid cloud infrastructure blends different types of clouds, while multi-cloud blends different clouds of the same type.
A hybrid cloud infrastructure connects at least one public cloud with at least one private cloud.
Multicloud is where you have more than one cloud service from more than one provider – public or private. Not all multiclouds are hybrid, but all hybrid clouds are multiclouds. Multiclouds can be described as hybrid when several clouds are connected.
There are a number of reasons why a law firm may want a hybrid or multicloud environment for its business systems. The scenario may improve scalability, increase agility and improve risk management, to name just a few. We have a white paper which goes into much more detail on this, published by Oosha, an Access Legal company: Public, private or hybrid cloud – which is right for your firm?
About Access Legal
Over 55,000 organisations rely on Access software to help their organisation thrive, including 3800 law firms. Legal software supplier dedicated to the legal profession, Access Legal, has brought together, through acquisition, six leading companies. The six companies combine expertise in law firm software, cloud computing and compliance. With over 400 people we have sector experience that goes back more three decades. Cloud hosting specialists for the legal sector, Oosha Limited was acquired by the Access Group in 2021 and combining its skills with those of the existing Access Group cloud hosting team we are able to deliver the modern, digital experience for thousands of UK law firms.
There are advantages and disadvantages with all these options and every law firm has its own unique set of preferences relating to security, disaster recovery and accessibility. The best way to tackle these technical decisions is to discuss the firm’s requirements with a legal IT consultant, who can provide advice for your own set of circumstances. For expert advice with your software hosting options please contact our team.