Owen Hile, IT director of Brisbane-based law firm, Gadens Lawyers, has a lot on his mind. Not only is he in the process of outsourcing data to IBM’s data centre in Sydney, but is also gearing up for an office move involving 300 employees.
The law firm, which has been an IBM customer for 10 years, selected the vendor’s SmartCloud virtual server recovery (VSR) offering so that in an event of a disaster, such as a repeat of the Queensland floods, the firm can recover its data quickly.
Hile said the decision to outsource its data was driven by the fact Gadens Lawyers had grown massively in staff numbers. In the past two years, it has gone from 160 to 300 people. This was because the financial services section of the law firm had won new business during that time.
“The employee increase is a big thing to manage from an IT perspective because my team consists of six staff,” he said.
“The challenge we had running our own disaster recovery [DR] site was that it became impossible to manage the increasing amount of gear we had in the Brisbane data centre.
“We looked to outsource the infrastructure side of it to somebody else, which led us to choose IBM.” While it was too early to report a return on investment, Hile said he was attracted to the VSR offering because it had a fixed monthly fee, unlike the previous situation where he was faced with ever-changing hardware costs.
Another deciding factor, according to Hile, was IBM being the most flexible provider he talked to. “I wanted the ability to have access to the physical host, not just virtual machines. Most of the providers I spoke with wouldn’t give us the resources we needed,” he said.
Hile added that he did not go into the outsourcing project “blind”, as his brother, who works as an IT manager for a Brisbane construction firm, had already implemented VSR 12 months ago. “I had positive feedback from him about it so I went in with some confidence that the VSR would work,” he said.
Once the outsourcing project and office move is finished, the IT department will conduct a review to see if any more outsourcing might be conducted in the future.
When it comes to Cloud computing, Hile said the firm is taking a cautious approach because of the sensitive nature of client data. However, it has begun working with a UK-based Cloud provider called Recoup which developed time recording software for the legal services industry. Gadens Lawyers uses the software to manage time sheets and billing records hosted in the Cloud.
“They had an innovative product that we saw a lot of promise in and we looked at the risk side of it,” Hile said. “The type of data they are managing for us is non-sensitive. We were comfortable in outsourcing in that respect because it was limited sets of data.”
Also on the IT project list is document automation and a refresh of the firm’s 300 desktop computers. When it comes to bring-your-own-device (BYOD), Hile said that while senior associates are provided with notebooks for remote use, he has no plans to develop a BYOD policy as of yet because of security concerns.
However, he admitted it is getting harder to justify a fleet of 70 BlackBerrys as staff members want to use their tablets at work, and said a BYOD policy may be developed after the next hardware refresh cycle.
Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick