Not all channel partner businesses have the chops to offer cloud, security and compliance consulting and support to businesses bound by regulatory and compliance mandates. Saalex Information Technology (SaalexIT), a Saalex Solutions Inc. business unit, is an exception.
While SaalexIT hasn’t even celebrated its 10th year in business, its parent company, an engineering and consulting contractor for the Department of Defense (DoD) with $60 million in revenue, just celebrated its 20th birthday. SaalexIT, an MSSP, boasts expertise in IT security, compliance, internet and managed services.
The technology services division formed after an acquisition in 2010 and rebranded as SaalesxIT in 2012, focusing on SMB commercial and municipal businesses with up to 500 seats. The partner focuses on vertical markets such as insurance, legal, health care and financial services. Even with its cloud, security and compliance credentials, SaalexIT is not immune to the challenges of getting some business to leverage the cloud — take law firms, for example.
Michael Flavin, director of technology sales, North America, at SaalexIT, has a few ideas as to why law firms aren’t more aggressive with their cloud strategies.
SaalexIT’s Michael Flavin
“There are misperceptions about losing control of the data, whether that’s senior partners on the IT committee or it’s the IT directors that we’re working with,” he said.
Flavin also noted that, according to American Bar Association (ABA) statistics, only 56% of law firms have moved some infrastructure to the cloud.
“This shows they’re cherry picking rather than planning and entire end state architecture for the business,” he said.
Some other stats from the ABA — 63% of lawyers who use cloud services worry about security and confidentiality, and 40% worry about losing control of data.
Another observation Flavin makes about law firms — without the right expertise in place, some have failed with cloud migrations.
“They may have good, traditional on-premises tech support, and understand the lawyer use cases and workflows, but when it comes to cloud optimization and security, they often can’t answer those questions,” he said.
With cloud, security and compliance, the top three buckets of services SaalexIT offers, the partner consults with businesses to help them get compliant and helps with security as well.
“Compliant doesn’t mean they’re secure; we help get them aligned with the newest technologies to help them with cyberdefense,” said Flavin. He notes that almost half of law firms have had their data security practices audited at least once by their clients in the last year.
As written in a blog by Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP, lawyers don’t get a free pass when it comes to data security. In fact, two recent opinions by the ABA – 483 and 477 – state that law firms must not only have security in place but also be able to monitor and detect a breach, take reasonable steps to stop the breach, find out what information was accessed – was it exfiltrated? – and to notify the client.
That’s where SaalexIT’s security information and event management (SIEM) security operations center (SOC), SIEM/SOC, helps the partner win overcautious clients.
Last October, a 200-employee legal firm in California doing litigation work for the county of Los Angeles, was referred to SaalexIT by a technology partner doing business with the firm. The law firm has four offices.
Here’s a sample use case from the law firm: An attorney in one office has 50 GB of data, which she wants to
upload so that any of the other offices can collaborate on that evidence in short order. So, their San Diego office uploads this evidence – which could include videos, pdfs and documents – to the cloud, and then in Los Angeles, the next morning, litigation is to take place. An attorney from the firm’s L.A. office, going to court, needs a local copy on his laptop in case he loses connectivity while working at the courthouse. Understanding this use case helps SaalexIT optimize the architecture to do what it calls an up/down, all-around syncing model to meet the law firm’s needs.
When the partner first started working with the law firm, it had all its data onsite, including backups.
Since that time, SaalexIT has replicated the law firm’s environment in a sandbox, or private data center in the cloud, so staff could test it.
“Once the finalized architecture is fine-tuned, a full migration can be finalized,” said Flavin.
The plan is for file servers for upload and download, and print servers, to remain on premises, since they have two more years before end of life. Application servers, NAS, and VDI infrastructure will move to the cloud.
“We designed an end-to-end hybrid cloud architecture for a private data center, which makes the client feel very comfortable,” he said. “When we talked about the perception of security and control, the client felt so much more comfortable because their data is not cotenant with anyone else’s data.”
Backups will also be easier and less costly. The firm has about 20 terabytes of evidence data sitting on expensive servers.
SaalexIT also is discussing SIEM/SOC monitoring; however, security using the company’s existing firewalls will be carefully reviewed when deployment happens. There are also security layers in the data center (private cloud) for protection out of the gate. SIEM/SOC is an add-on layer to help detect and stop cybersecurity attacks using AI and the SaalexIT NOC, according to the partner.
It was a combination of SaalexIT’s security expertise and its hybrid cloud infrastructure design, where not everything was moving to the cloud, that helped this law firm say “yes” to leveraging the cloud.
Still a work in progress, this project is far from over. SaalexIT also provides training for compliance and security training for end users and the partner’s expertise in connectivity, cloud and security is where it is adding value.
“Our role is co-managed IT in the areas we discussed. Going forward there’s an opportunity for infrastructure management and cloud orchestration and making sure that as their business grows, they continue to meet their SLAs and scale in a cost-effective way,” said Flavin.
In a company white paper – The Law Firm’s Survival Guide for Moving to the Cloud – SaalexiT offers five reasons law firms should leverage the cloud ASAP: Cloud costs more accurately reflect the firms current needs; cloud provides redundancy, business continuity and greater access to corporate data; cloud makes software compatibility and updates seamless; cloud computing, when managed properly, is more secure than on-premises systems; and cloud allows a firm to unlock its data and use it for valuable business intelligence.