Peer to Peer Magazine

Summer 2016

The quarterly publication of the International Legal Technology Association

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8 PEER TO PEER: THE QUARTERLY MAGAZINE OF ILTA | SUMMER 2016 BEST PRACTICES The Future of the Data Center The Future of the Data Center In a decade or so, many organizations will have transferred their data from physical data centers, or co-locations, to the cloud; they will rent virtual — rather than physical — space in centers managed by a few providers like Amazon and Microso. Servers will rarely be hosted at co-locations and almost never on-premises at the office. Law firms' IT departments will never have to touch or see them. From Co-location to Cloud Technology The co-location approach used to be cost prohibitive for all but the largest firms, but it has become an aractive option for many. We now see law firms consolidating their infrastructures to support agility and moving their backup (and sometimes primary) servers to co-locations. They rent physical space for their servers in a center within driving distance of the main office so IT can occasionally check on them, but far enough to avoid, for instance, the same hurricane that might take out the power in their office. The benefits of this approach are numerous: » Room to grow » Cheaper storage » Centralized management » Lower overhead. Technologically progressive law firms are now going one step further by moving their data centers not only off-premises but to the cloud. This migration to the cloud comes in tandem with the overall focus on flexibility that has arisen due to increased economic pressures and globalization. The movement is apparent in IT practices such as "hoteling," the setup of fluid workspaces rather than permanently assigned desks, and the deployment of laptops instead of desktop computers. Costs and Benefits A typical law firm draws on a mix of resources — local, cloud and co-located. The desktop platform, Windows Office suite and image run locally while the co-location server runs various applications such as SharePoint and email. Kra Kennedy uses a mix of cloud and hosted technologies; our VMware servers give us the option of moving our data to the cloud to be hosted by the company hosting VMware. We are preparing for a future, though, in which all network services will be hosted by cloud providers. Applications will be delivered as Soware as a Service (SaaS) and firms will pay a subscription fee to use vendors' resources. Many firms are already doing this with Office 365, NetDocuments and other services. Amazon's AWS is the most popular provider of cloud infrastructure. Microso's version is Azure, Google has Cloud Platform and Rackspace has its OpenStack service. These companies have their own data centers complete with servers, storage and networking. They offer to host and manage organizations' data for them on an as-needed basis. What will data centers of the future look like? For one, there will be fewer of them as companies stop relying on physical co-location. Those that remain might take the form of cylindrical capsules kept under the ocean for years at a time. by Marcus Bluestein and Nina Lukina

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