Cloud Computing: An Ideal Disaster Recovery Plan

Vol. 2, No. 5

Nicole Black is Director of Business Development at MyCase, a cloud-based law practice management platform. She is an attorney in Rochester, NY, and is a GigaOM Pro analyst. She is the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, coauthored the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: The Next Frontier, and coauthored “Criminal Law in New York,” a West-Thomson treatise. She speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. She publishes three legal blogs and can be reached at niki@mycaseinc.com.

 

According to the American Bar Association’s 2011 Legal Technology Survey, the main reason lawyers use cloud computing platforms is convenience. Seventy percent of attorneys who use cloud services cited the ability to access data from anywhere as the main incentive. Simplicity and affordability were also cited as important factors. Low cost was important to 49 percent, quick startup time was a factor at 44 percent, and 43 percent appreciated the ability to eliminate IT staff and software management requirements.

Finally, 55 percent stressed the importance of 24/7 access to data—a benefit that became all too apparent in October when Hurricane Sandy pummeled the East Coast, leaving a trail of destruction in her wake.

Yet even in the midst of the devastation, where there was WiFi and power, there were residents in tow, doing their best to conduct business as usual, with reports of crowds gathering outside of not yet reopened Starbucks cafes in order to access the stores’ free WiFi signals.

Because where there’s WiFi, there’s a connection to the outside world—and access to all of the data that you have stored in the Cloud. That’s why Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath is a great example of one of the most useful benefits of cloud computing: an affordable and secure safety net in the face of disaster. This is because cloud computing offers the ability to quickly and easily access your data, no matter where you are or what time of day it is, as long as you have an Internet connection. The reason this is such a selling point for cloud computing is that it’s impossible to predict when you might lose access to your office. So law offices that fail to back up their data offsite are unnecessarily risking the loss of their data in the event of an office break-in, power loss, or even a natural disaster. Conversely, if law firms store their files in the Cloud, they are protected from the unexpected loss of access to their law offices and the data stored onsite. For example, when I recently spoke on a panel about cloud computing at a New York State Bar Association conference, one of my copanelists, an NYC lawyer, described how his firm switched to cloud computing after losing access to the servers housed in his law firm’s office, which was located in the Empire State Building. He explained that building management advised tenants on a Friday that power would be out all weekend for scheduled maintenance. That meant that he would be unable to remotely access his firm’s data for the entire weekend. Shortly after that happened, he moved his firm’s data to the Cloud and hasn’t looked back.

Now, his law firm, just like other businesses that store their data in the Cloud, has a built-in disaster plan in effect. This is because cloud computing data providers host your data in remote, geographically dispersed data centers, so even if a disaster hits one geographic region, back up data centers in other geographic areas will continue to operate, allowing you constant access to your data.

It is this georedundant design of the newly built, cutting-edge, cloud computing data centers that makes all the difference, ensuring that even in the face of a large-scale geographic event like Hurricane Sandy, built-in redundant data backup will save the day. In fact, cloud computing data centers are often designed with disaster recovery in mind, and any reputable provider of business cloud computing services should have redundancies built into the services that they provide, thus ensuring that their customers rarely, if ever, lose access to their data.

The bottom line is that off-site data backup makes it easy and convenient to access your data wherever you may be, no matter what time of day. And, more importantly, it can sometimes be a lifesaver, making it easy to access your firm’s securely stored data, no matter what the circumstances—even in the face of an unprecedented “Frankenstorm” like Sandy.

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