To say 2020 is an interesting year is quite the understatement. Sure, some people had an inkling that COVID would come to the US. Maybe the writing was always on the wall. But I haven't heard from anyone who thought a shelter-in-place order would be enacted in so many parts of the US. And that's what started the need for lawyers to move to working remotely. And fast.
That's where cloud computing became a critical lifeline for law firms. And it all happened so fast, too. Now that we can look back a bit, it's important to take a moment and reflect on what we learned about cloud computing and why it's still important.
What is the Cloud?
Simply put, the cloud is a series of servers. What are servers? Think about your own computer. The big difference between that and a server is there is no screen on a server. Most servers are like supercharged, amped up computers. They have a lot more memory space, and have multiple cores and processors which allow multiple programs to run independently of the other on the same server.
The cloud is comprised of literally millions of servers around the world. And that's the next thing that defines the cloud. If you don't have access to your computer, you can't see the files that are stored on it. You must physically have your computer with you to access files stored on your hard drive. With the cloud, servers can literally be anywhere around the world, and you can still access the information stored on them. That's how most software platforms work.
Think about your online music source. Maybe you like Spotify, or Apple Music. Either way, you are accessing that music off of a cloud server through an internet connection. You don't have all those songs stored on your computer. But you access it through the computer or your phone or whatever. But that music is all stored on the cloud.
For case management software hosted in the cloud, like SimpleLaw, that means you don't have to have your computer to access your information. You can login to the software and see everything that you have stored. That means you can literally log in from anywhere in the world, on any secure, internet connected device. And that means when shelter-in-place started, you didn't miss a beat. And that's why the cloud is so important.
Great. So what is Cloud Computing?
If you are over 25 years old, you may remember having to upload software to your computer using disks. Yeah... that happened. That is NOT cloud computing.
The cloud computing model stores one version of the software - always up to date, with no upgrades required generally speaking - that you log in to. Going back to the music platform example, you don't need to update your music source to make sure the latest music is included. It's just there when you log in. In general, cloud computing platforms require a login to ensure you see only the information you have stored. If you login, it's probably cloud computing.
Now, sometimes there are exceptions. For example, if security enhancements need to be made to the interface process, you may need to download an update. Think of it as a handshake. If there are security concerns that exist between the device - your computer or phone - and the source, adjustments need to be made to both sides. It's a bit more complicated than that, but you get the idea.
Why the Cloud Really Makes a Difference
If you can access your documents, notes, time tracking, invoices, payments, and everything else you need to run your cases and practice via the cloud, you can work anywhere. Literally, anywhere there is a secure internet connection. You don't even need to haul your computer back and forth from your office to home. And that's the big difference.
Some law firms have been a bit slow to adopt case management software. We get that. Change is hard. And habits are tough to break. But when you consider the benefits, it's so very well worth it. Sure, vinyl records are back in style and sound great. But if that's the only way you get your music, it's definitely a lot tougher.
Cloud computing capabilities continue to grow, too. From Zoom to Groups to all the other video conferencing tools, people are finding a lot of efficiency. That's part of what makes cloud computing so vital now and going forward. If your firms hasn't yet adopted cloud-based case management software, well, jump in. Making the change requires you to adopt new practices but we promise, it's so well worth it. Not only during COVID but all the time.