As a business owner, former IT consultant and admitted techno-geek, I have to admit that I have not been as excited about a platform or technology like Microsoft Azure in a long time. The sheer scale, power and flexibility of Azure, coupled with the fact that that it was designed to work well with what you already have in your office makes it very appealing. This is especially true for small to mid-sized law firms and other small businesses that are looking to save cost on IT support and management without reinventing the wheel.
Using Azure for Storing Archive Legal Data, Files
Some the most powerful solutions are the easiest ones. Recently, a few customers (attorneys) came to us with a business problem and asked for our help. We do a significant amount of IT consulting for legal practices in the New Jersey and Manhattan (NYC) areas. One of the customers was a small law firm located in NJ. This particular firm had already migrated virtually their entire IT infrastructure to our private cloud, based in in NJ.
The attorney in charge of IT for the practice explained that, while he enjoyed having his IT infrastructure in the cloud and was pleased with the cloud solution in place, he surmised that he might be able to lower his data storage costs even further by moving old case files off of his production cloud environment to some sort of archive, also located in the cloud. He added that, he would certainly need to keep the data for many years, but that the chances of him actually needing to access or modify the data were slim to none. This made lots of sense to us.
Generally, the IT infrastructure at this particular legal practice consists of a Microsoft Windows domain with a site to site secure VPN connection to our private cloud, where users work off of virtual desktops.
Solution: Inexpensive Storage, Powered by Microsoft Azure
To address our client’s needs, we first had to make the connection between their network to Azure. Once the secure VPN connection was established, we created a single Windows Server in Azure that would host a file share. We then joined the new Azure server to their existing Windows domain and mapped a drive letter to the new server share so that the user’s had access to it in a way they already knew. Finally, we setup a backup and retention policy for our newly created Azure server to protect it.
This solution was very simple and effective. Essentially, by making the connection to Azure, we extended our client’s network to vast computing resources, using conventions that he and his end-users already knew. We also saved cost by taking advantage of Azure’s super low cost storage. (around .08 per GB). Now, when a case file is closed, the attorney simply drags the case folder over to the shared drive on Azure. No learning curve!
Have questions? If you are starting a law firm or in charge of IT at a legal practice, feel free to reach out to us. We’d be happy to discuss how Microsoft Azure might be able to simplify IT management or save cost for you too.
See: Azure Calculator