Cloud service providers

Best Questions to Ask Cloud Service Providers

October 30, 2017

We’re past the decade mark and cloud service providers continue to find new and innovative ways to help businesses improve. While most small, mid-size, and enterprise-level organizations have taken advantage of cloud computing, there are a few holdout industries that remain moderately or even severely suspicious of losing control of their data and business functions to cloud service providers.

Lawyers reside in one of those industry sectors that have been slower to migrate. If your firm has been reluctant to join the cloud revolution it might be because, while you’re a great attorney, you really don’t know a lot about cloud service providers, what they offer, and what questions to ask before migrating to the cloud.

Sometimes lawyers need legal guidance too — especially when it comes to technology. This article looks at the best questions to ask your cloud service provider before you sign on the dotted line.

Best Questions for a Cloud Provider

The first discussion any law firm should hold with a potential cloud provider is a strategic one. The cloud provides many benefits, including the ability to access work functions on any device, and easy interoperability between software, applications, and platforms. Strategize with your IT consultant about what applications you’re currently using, what’s working, and what you’d like to improve upon. A good cloud solutions provider can help you understand which web-based programs can integrate with the digital tools you’re currently using, or if there are ways to streamline your existing workflows by moving to the cloud.

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Once you have a better sense of how your practice workflows will be impacted, here are some additional questions that will help guide you through your decision-making process:

  • What are my service options in the cloud?
    Most cloud providers can offer you an on-premise option, with on-site hardware, a full cloud option, or a hybrid model that incorporates both. What are the subscription packages that are available and what do they entail? What are the “hidden fees” that accompany the setup systems or the migration of data?
  • What are the security and compliance features of the service?
    Because attorneys are under strict rules related to client confidentially, protecting data as it flows to and from the cloud, along with securing it while it’s stored is critically important. An article in Above the Law states, “Ethics rules require lawyers to safeguard confidential client information and to protect client property, including files, from loss.” This makes it imperative to discuss what security features are in place to keep data safe and find out how often security patches occur.
  • Where will your data be stored?
    Understanding where your data will be housed is very important. Will it be stored in the back room of a solo practitioner, or will it be with one of the big cloud providers in large, secure, professional data centers? Find out what systems are in place to protect the servers where your data is housed from natural or man-made disasters. What about physical security and protection from theft? Only migrate when you’re comfortable with answers to these questions.
  • What is customer service like?
    You should have access to customer care 24/7/365. Ask the cloud solutions provider about the-time-to-resolve averages if you experience a problem. Who handles after-hours calls? What remediation is covered under your standard service agreement and what might be “extra?”

There are some clear benefits to cloud service providers, but attorneys must be certain that they’re completely comfortable with outsourcing, and that the security and reliability of their chosen vendor fit the requirements of the firm. Contact TOSS C3 to start a confidential and strategic conversation about the pros and cons of moving to the cloud.

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