In the current climate and with the recent news that South Africa is now formally in a recession there have been a lot of attorneys that have decided to leave the larger firms and go on their own. However, how will they be able to compete with the large firms that have all the technology they need at their fingertips?
To purchase and maintain these large IT systems is a costly though beneficial exercise that can provide you with a definitive competitive advantage. Fortunately the market has found a means to overcome the hurdle of purchasing and maintaining a costly IT infrastructure. It's called Desktop Hosting Solution which is literally having your computer and server infrastructure provided to you by a service provider, much like other utilities, with monthly invoicing for what you use and paying a fixed price per user per month. This solution will provide you with all the advantages of an enterprise-grade IT system at a small business cost.
The mobility you need:
Using this service will turn you into a new age, state of the art law firm that is able to access files and data, send and receive email, and print documents from anywhere as long as you have access to the internet. Desktop Hosting Solutions will provide access to your desktop at court, in a client's office or at home exactly as you would have at your desk in the office.
Contains everything you require:
Included in such a service is all the software required for general office use such as Microsoft Office, Anti-virus etc. If specialized software is required it can usually be added as an extra either on a rental or cash basis.
Previously the only way to obtain an enterprise-grade solution was to host the servers yourself in your office which is a costly exercise. Server licensing alone can add up to thousands per user for things like access to the files hosted on a server, email hosted on exchange, anti-virus and anti-spam and corporate backup solutions. With this solution you get a full enterprise-grade system at small business cost, similar to what you would have received if you were a department in a large corporation.
How does it work:
The Hosted Desktop Solution works by effectively replicating your local network in a virtual environment on the servers in a data-centre. All the software runs on these servers, the screen information is pushed to the device you are connecting from and the mouse and keyboard information is accepted in return. Thus all services such as anti-virus protection, anti-spyware protection, content filtering, anti-spam, backups and user administration can be performed centrally and securely. This eliminates the need for IT support and staff in the office as all problems can be resolved in the data-centre which is staffed by specialists.
Future proof yourself:
The hardware requirements when using such a service are much lower than normal because all the processing is done on the servers in the data centre and not on the local desktop machine. This means that older machines or alternatively thin clients may be used. A thin client is a machine that contains no moving parts and is less than half the price of a regular desktop with a life expectancy of seven years, whereas a normal desktop cycle is more in the region of three years. This will result in fewer upgrades in the future, because of the extended lifecycle of the client devices and the fact that the server side is maintained and upgraded by the service provider.
Be light on your feet:
Another advantage is the scalability that the solution offers. As no investment is made in the hardware and software it won't stand around idle if the workforce is trimmed down and can easily and quickly be added when your workforce expands. This frees you from the burden of capacity planning and ownership is retained of the only real asset in IT, your information and data.
There is no major initial cash outlay and as such there will be no effect on your balance sheet, costs are 100% tax deductable because it is seen as an operating expense and all your IT expenses are wrapped into one monthly payment giving you greater predictability in your cash flow.
A Desktop Hosting Solution will provide you with a secure reliable environment that you can access wherever you are at an affordable price and remove the burden of support and maintenance, while providing you with the assurance that your data, files and emails have reliable backups in case of disaster.
Bart van Deventer
Technical Business Manager at Lawdeed (Pty) Ltd
Tel: 086 044 3333