Tips to Simplify and Unify Law Firm Communications for the Cloud
Law firms today are looking to unify the patchwork of communications and collaboration services they have installed over the past two decades by moving them to the cloud. There's only one problem--"unified communications" services are not so unified for everyone.
Many law firms want to realize the power of unified communications, yet the limitations of their legacy network infrastructure continues to make it hard to do. The sheer complexity alone of converging voice, data and video communications (and managing all of the vendors supporting those systems) causes significant and complex problems for even the best-funded law firms who are trying to do it all by themselves. Here are three tips for simplifying that process:
A migration--not an overhaul
A popular myth among law firms is that they will need to overhaul their entire telecom network just to move their unified communications into the cloud. Nothing could be further from the truth.
By taking a hosted approach to managing their network environment, law firms can more easily deploy a converged, all-IP network in the cloud as a fully managed infrastructure. And they can do that while gaining unprecedented application performance, flexibility and resiliency, as well as a level of insight into their network that was never before possible.
That's why a multi-phased migration to unified communications makes more sense than just ripping and replacing a law firm's entire telecom infrastructure. This is especially true when law firms are looking to integrate their Software as a Service (SaaS) applications with cloud-based solutions for voice, unified messaging, network services, and conferencing and collaboration.
In fact, a single, application-aware network can remove the overwhelming burden of having to manage complex legacy network infrastructure and services through multiple carriers. With the hosted managed services approach, law firms also won't have to commit to the huge capital investment normally needed to purchase--and roll out--an entire new phone system.
Of course, when considering the cloud, security concerns still worry any law firm. Protecting client data is paramount. These applications have traditionally been provided and disparately managed by different, competing vendors-- and of course, they were not unified on one platform.
But hosted systems today offer law firms better visibility and control than ever before. They also provide much higher levels of enhanced security from external threats such as hackers, network intrusions, viruses, phishing, spoofing and spam though centralized managed security. And by converging applications on one communications platform, law firms can easily gain visibility into utilization reports, performance statistics, and other critical security insights every day.
But that external security check is not enough. Managed service providers should complement that visibility and control for a law firm with their own proactive network monitoring and management by identifying security issues before they arise. This level of support is critical in a fully converged environment, where law firms want to integrate voice, data, video and Internet services within a single network architecture.
Strike up the Band(width)
An application-aware network enables companies to achieve the most effective, dynamic bandwidth allocation possible for all applications--including Internet access. This is done based not only on needs, but also on what is known as application layer prioritization. An application-aware network ensures that the company prioritizes bandwidth and connectivity to make its most important, time-sensitive applications available at all times--ensuring they are available in a timely manner regardless of where they are being accessed across the network.
Today, law firms can make the leap to the cloud for a true unified communications approach by leveraging the power of a hosted application-aware network. In doing so they can upgrade their network performance while still leveraging legacy technologies through a phased approach. And that means law firms no longer have to put off integrating unified, centralized applications and cloud-based services throughout their organizations.
James Whitemore is Executive Vice President of Smoothstone IP Communications, a provider of cloud-based communications for enterprise-level companies (www.smoothstone.com). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.