Is there a plus side to the COVID-19 outbreak for law firms and corporate legal departments? I think there is: the industry adapted to technologies for remote work with surprising speed and agility. The pandemic also raised awareness in the industry about the benefits of the cloud. It quickly became obvious that organizations with some or all of their operations in the cloud were able to transition to the new work environment much more nimbly than those who hadn’t.
That said, planning and managing cloud migrations can be complex. It’s easy to become so overwhelmed with the details that you never get started. My response to that is simple: start with eDiscovery. Plans for cloud migrations should always begin with a clear business case, and you would be hard pressed to find a more compelling business case for migrating to the cloud than the prospect of making eDiscovery less costly, faster, more efficient, and more secure.
The eDiscovery business case for the cloud
Here’s the business case in a nutshell:
- Total cost of ownership: On-premise, in-house eDiscovery infrastructure includes not only the cost of application software, but also costs for hardware, system software, network infrastructure, and the personnel to manage it. Cloud solutions reduce or entirely eliminate many of these costs, and adopters of cloud technology typically realize rapid return on investment. Costs are also more predictable.
- Speed: Cloud solutions provide more computing resources at lower cost. This means you can afford access to enterprise-grade computing power, which translates to faster data processing, faster review, and more efficiency across the eDiscovery workflow.
- Scalability: With cloud computing you can ramp up or down according to your needs at any given time. This applies not only to data storage but also to cloud application architecture, which is designed to accommodate sudden increases in document volumes, user bases, and resource-intensive tasks.
- Security: Today’s most reputable cloud providers use enterprise-grade security products and protocols for network monitoring and infrastructure protection. These measures are recognized and certified by international standards organizations and, in some cases, by demanding government security programs like FedRAMP. A secure cloud offers immeasurable advantages over on-premise solutions, where sensitive data is often replicated and dispersed among multiple servers, computers, mobile devices, and portable storage drives.
- Disaster recovery and data redundancy: Disaster risk is easier and less expensive to mitigate in the cloud. Strategic data redundancy via different geographies and electrical grids is much simpler to achieve in a cloud environment.
- Ease of use: The cloud has rendered the lengthy implementation timelines associated with on-premise infrastructure obsolete. Upload your data and you’re ready to go. Also, cloud architecture makes it easier to consolidate multiple applications within a single, simple, web-based user interface that remains consistent and familiar even as new capabilities are added to the eDiscovery toolset.
- Software updates and upgrades: This is one of the biggest headaches and security challenges faced by IT teams. With cloud solutions, patches and upgrades are automatic and continual, with no downtime.
- Cloud collections: Cloud-based solutions simplify and speed up potentially complex collections from an increasingly diverse body of cloud data sources like Gmail, Google Drive, Dropbox, and Box without requiring specialized software or forensic experts.
The benefits of cloud-based eDiscovery are important, and understanding them will help advocates of migration make the case to key stakeholders in the organization and, in the case of law firms, to major clients. But how do you actually make it happen? Join me for Part Two of this post, where I’ll discuss a simple, three-part approach to migration.
The Time to Move eDiscovery to the Cloud is Now, Part Two: Making it Happen will be posted by ACEDS the week of May 3, 2021.