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Impact and opportunity costs may be changing the question from whether to migrate your knowledge work to the cloud, to when.

Whether you are still on the fence about migrating to the cloud or are still gathering information to prepare a business case, it may be helpful to reframe how you think about the cloud. Legal firms are often reluctant to invest in the cloud due to security concerns. However, private firms maintaining their own data are at a greater risk of attack, because unpatched vulnerabilities account for 60% of data breaches.

Big cloud vendors such as iManage have much greater security expertise than private entities and are certified compliant with federal data governance standards.[1] Perhaps it is time to consider the impact and opportunity cost of not migrating to the cloud. Most firms can ill afford the ramifications of falling behind with outdated technology.

On-prem capabilities may be losing ground to cloud-based platforms

iManage is committed to supporting our customers who remain on-premises with their DMS. At the same time, we are cognizant of the speed of technological innovation and its influence on making knowledge work. It is essential for us — as both a business and a provider — to stay competitive with continued innovation in cloud-based solutions. Because of this, we’ve made it a strategic initiative to ensure the iManage cloud provides a secure platform that makes it easy to migrate to the cloud, if and when you decide to make the shift.

Let’s talk about why demand for the cloud is growing.

Demand for cloud-based platforms goes beyond the need to modernize or upgrade existing systems. High on the list of compelling reasons cited by our clients for a move to the cloud:

  • Improve security and governance
  • Reduce infrastructure investment and support
  • Add or ensure feature availability
  • Gain a competitive advantage
  • Provide a better level of service to clients

To secure your clients’ content

"Modernizing our information management with iManage allows us to better comply with fast-evolving client and regulatory demands,” said Meredith Williams-Range, Chief Knowledge & Client Value Officer at Shearman & Sterling. “iManage’s ability to support a global firm of our size, coupled with its advanced cloud security, assures our clients worldwide that their sensitive and privileged content is secured and governed at the highest levels.”[2]

Security breaches where a “back door” is somehow left “open,” compromising an organization or government agency’s data, have become alarmingly commonplace. As we have seen time and time again, hackers overcome the network defenses and quickly manage to obtain any credentials needed to access sensitive data. This vulnerability stems from the use of a perimeter defense as the primary protection for the entire data system. When it is breached, all servers on the network are at risk of attack. 

Siloed servers are the best protection from cyber-criminals. The Zero Trust model that iManage employs protects each server individually and, in a critical distinction, ensures that no server has visibility of or access into any other server. Each server is a fortress unto itself, and the cloud is key to maintaining this level of defense and data security.

To mitigate the high cost of growth

Sam Shipley, CIO, Bricker & Eckler, LLP, commented, "For us, [iManage Cloud] removes the burden of upgrading, managing servers, and rolling out updates. We are able to benefit from rapid innovation and train our teams with greater efficiency.”[3]

The server architecture needed to support an on-prem system today is dramatically larger than it was 15 years ago. iManage partner Morae noted a 400% increase in servers with a 1500% increase in required RAM. They estimated the correlating growth in document volume at approximately six to eight million in 2006 to 50 million in 2021. And highly sophisticated technology is needed to index and search 50 million documents, not just more servers.[4]

Firms today must also allocate all resources necessary for full disaster recovery deployment within their system, a financial commitment that is likely to keep trending upward. The skillset needed to develop high-availability service resiliency and data resiliency, and the associated costs in people, hardware, maintenance, and upgrades to support the required infrastructure, are a major contributing factor driving migration to the cloud.  

To support future ways of working

"Moving to iManage Cloud isn’t just about freeing ourselves up from managing IT infrastructure — it’s about enabling future ways of working,” said Karen O'Connor, Chief Information Officer, Lander & Rogers.[5]

Technology evolves at a breathtaking pace. If we fail to evolve with it, we risk falling behind. iManage is determined not only to keep pace, but to be a pace setter. That means we are focusing significant resources on future functionality — which is good for our customers. But it comes with a caveat. It isn’t practical, possible, or cost-effective to develop certain features for on-premises systems. And already, some important new capabilities are only available in the cloud.

Features that either aren’t available on-prem, or are slow or burdensome to implement, include the artificial intelligence that enables the automated extraction of key provisions. This improves the scope and quality of compliance reviews and enables teams to respond faster for better decision making. Zero Trust automation of security updates also rely on the cloud, and an increasing number of features in development are cloud dependent.

To leverage the cloud as an advantage

“Taking advantage of the cloud is key to increasing our agility as an organization and rapidly delivering the latest innovations to our stakeholders,” said Rick Boulin, Chief Information Officer, Baker Botts.[6]

Migrating to the cloud can give law firms an edge in a competitive landscape. Operating in the cloud may be perceived as more effective, more agile, more future-ready, or more secure. When clients and prospective clients compare you to peers that have already migrated to a cloud-based platform, a commitment to remaining on-prem can potentially put your firm at a disadvantage.

Business incentives to embrace the cloud are likely to continue to grow in the months and years ahead. And as more and more firms take the leap, the opportunity to leverage the cloud as an advantage diminishes. Latecomers may be perceived as belatedly catching up to the pack.

To deliver the best service to clients

"To support our lawyers in delivering the best possible legal services to our clients, we needed a secure, world-class, cloud-based system that our attorneys can access on any device, anytime, anywhere around the world — and iManage fit the bill perfectly,” said Dan Surowiec, Chief Information Officer, Baker McKenzie.[7]

Siloed servers, geo‐isolation of data, customer-managed encryption keys, automated, hands-off patches and updates, all enable iManage to promise unmatched security and performance to our clients – so that they can make the same promise to theirs. After migrating, our clients find that they can deliver more projects and provide a better level of service to clients, with the same resources.

Making the case for the cloud

Securing buy-in from the C-suite to migrate from an on-premises document management system to a cloud-based platform requires a compelling business case.

A recent webinar hosted by Morae, an iManage partner, “Building a business case for the iManage cloud,” guides technical leaders in making a strong case for moving their businesses from DMS to SaaS.

The webinar acknowledges that in some firms it is still a challenge to get cloud projects approved, despite a general acceptance of cloud in the legal space. Morae representatives define the main sticking points around this decision and provide solid talking points to circumvent them. We highly recommend watching the webinar — then reach out to iManage for further information on your cloud strategy.

Morae Global Corporation is trusted worldwide by leading law firms, legal departments, and compliance functions for the delivery of award-winning solutions for digital transformation and legal transformation.

Let us show you more...

Let us share with you the stories of many clients that have deployed our modern document management platform in the cloud, how they got there, and the benefits they have seen. 

About the author

Heidi Hanson