This is What a Good Private Cloud Migration Looks Like

When it comes to finding the right cloud platform for your law firm, you likely know that not all clouds are created equal. It’s just as important to acknowledge that not all cloud migrations are performed equally. We’ve spoken with many law firms that have moved to one cloud solution or another, and the range of onboarding experiences varies significantly.

To that end, it’s useful (if not critical) to define the process of a comprehensive, problem-free Private Cloud migration. And also, to understand what you can and should demand from your Private Cloud provider and its migration process.

In other words, this is what a good Private Cloud migration looks like.

Onboarding Manager

Cloud migration should start the same way as any well-managed project – with a single point of contact. Your project manager (we call him the Onboarding Manger) should begin by clearly setting expectations and clearly communicating the next steps, removing any uncertainty as to the path that lies ahead. Your Onboarding Manager should define specific timelines, expectations, and what is needed from you.

Discovery/Assessment

While a good cloud service provider (CSP) will have a well-defined and documented process for onboarding, the process is never cookie-cutter, and no two law firms are alike. A good cloud migration process should begin with deep discovery and assessment of the firm’s current environment, including:

  • Taking inventory of the software to be migrated to the cloud
  • Taking an inventory of all documents and data (in all locations)
  • Identifying all of your email accounts (which may be hosted in a number of different locations)
  • Documenting relevant third-party logins and accounts, such as domain registrations
  • Creating an inventory of network devices and peripherals

The entire discovery, assessment, and coordination process should take a week or less, and should create zero interruption to your firm’s operation.

Build and Prep

Next, the CSP will begin building your Private Cloud environment. A good CSP will have a well-developed process, and can build your Private Cloud quickly. The Onboarding Manager and engineering team will install your software, provision your email accounts, and generally build the “shell” of your complete IT platform.

The entire build and preparation process should take only a few days, and should not result in any disruption of your firm’s operation.

Data Gathering and Cutover

Next, your CSP will begin the process of collecting your data from current locations. This too should be a well-defined and efficient process:

  • The provider should quickly extract email accounts
  • Collect and organize file system data from every location (i.e. a file server, a network shared drive, data scattered across individual computers, or all of the above)
  • Your software application databases are exported

The physical transfer should be seamless and all data transferred securely to the new cloud platform. The Onboarding Manager and his team should thoroughly test every application (once data has been imported), and test computers and peripherals. They should also encourage you (or the designated liaison at your firm) to test key applications and systems prior to giving the “all clear.”

The CSP should be very flexible in scheduling the cutover, including executing it over an evening or weekend, so that, the entire cutover process takes no more than a day, and results in little or no user downtime.

Post-Cutover Training and Support

A good CSP knows first impressions matter: The key to employee adoption is a reliable, easy-to-use system from Day One. Your CSP should have a comprehensive plan for training your entire staff and provide an extra layer of handholding as necessary. The Onboarding Manager, who “owns” the migration, should be there for you on the front lines: helping with training and tying up loose ends.

Ongoing Advocacy and Support

This well-managed, highly operationalized process shouldn’t end with the migration. A good CSP will have systems for both “on-demand” support, as well as Account Management:  a process to make certain that beyond the day-to-day technical needs, you have a true partner and legal technology advisor.

In Summary

It’s easy to closely examine and compare the products and platform of one CSP to another–but don’t forget to carefully evaluate the onboarding process:  its implications are deep.

Moving your entire firm—software, data, documents, and email—is a major process, akin to a heart transplant. Make sure you have an experienced surgeon in the operating room.

 

About Dennis Dimka

Dennis Dimka, CEO of Uptime Legal, founded Uptime in 2005. Since 2010, Uptime has focused exclusively on providing law firms with Private Cloud services and web-based legal software. With a background in Information Technology, Dennis has worked in the IT sector for over 15 years in both technical and leadership roles.

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  • That’s a really insightful write-up, thank you for posting, Dennis. I’d like to add that a company should be cautious while giving emplyees rights to access files – allowing everybody to access everything can end up quite badly. Actually, the company I work, Sher.ly for has just released a private cloud – it has a feature that allows you to ‘unsync’ files from selected devices.I have to say I’m pretty excited!