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Thought Leaders In Cloud Computing: Michael Aginsky, CTO Of Gibbons P.C. (Part 2)

Posted on Tuesday, Aug 24th 2010

By guest author Shaloo Shalini and Bhavana Sharma

In this part of the interview Sramana drills deeper into the legal hold process, the application of cloud computing in law firms, current vendors offering solutions to legal industry, and how security and governance of the system are top requirements for any IT solution deployed by a law firm. Law firms require detailed audit information from any IT application they use. Michael discusses how cloud solutions for the legal industry have yet to mature and meet all such data and information security requirements.

SM: How broad do you think this trend of cloud computing adoption in the legal industry is? Is it the democratization of IT owing to the advent of cloud computing?

MA: With respect to legal industry, cloud adoption is just getting started. [The legal industry has been traditionally slow in adopting technology – you can refer to some writings on law firms and IT adoption here.] Cloud computing has a lot of long-term potential in the legal domain.

I think we are still trying to figure out the measures needed to take the much larger applications and slice or dice them in such a way that they can be delivered over the cloud.

SM: You say that cloud computing is still getting started in the legal business. Being a leader in bringing cloud computing into the legal fold, what do you think are the prerequisites and main requirements for the broader adoption of cloud computing in the legal domain and for Gibbons, too?

MA: For us, it really centers on the security and governance of the system. If we are going to host information for multiple clients on a cloud platform, the key issues are, how is the cloud secure; how is client data kept secure; where is the data hosted, not just in terms of the facility but also in which state it is located; and where does the data get backed up? This amounts to knowing where the data is at all times.

We also need to have transparency into the data backup process and a vendor’s data retention policy. This is required so that we understand where our risks are. On the governance side, we need to know who performed what action to data and when. We need to know anything and everything about how data has been accessed. There are hundreds of attorneys; we are always being called to defend what we did or what was done. These kinds of information and audit requirements limit our ability to adopt cloud computing and other traditional types of applications.

SM: I am sure that many vendors are trying to sell you applications and infrastructure as a service (IaaS) now. How are vendors responding when you talk to them and give them feedback? Are they catering to your needs? Do they understand and appreciate your heightened need for security and governance in applications? Are you getting the right response from them?

MA: The vendors understand and appreciate our feedback and requirements, but they are very slow to respond. They have businesses, big companies, already using their products, and they do not want to make too many changes too quickly. Normally the response we get is, “It is a great idea, we have heard about it, and we are working on it.” Their goal is to sell you today what they have available now in terms of product functions and features, and often the specific requirements we have as a legal business are just not there for us.

This segment is part 2 in the series : Thought Leaders In Cloud Computing: Michael Aginsky, CTO Of Gibbons P.C.
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