Uninterrupted Access

By Andy Jurczyk  |  Posted 2009-12-04 Print this article Print

Thanks to the company’s intranet, the attorneys at Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal get 24/7 availability to all the information they need to satisfy their clients and do their jobs effectively.

Uninterrupted Access

One of the imperatives in the project was providing our attorneys with the ability to access legal documents anytime, anywhere—even from an Apple iPhone through a secure VPN.

To maximize the service we provide our clients, and to increase productivity and competitiveness, we created the Portal using Microsoft SharePoint. The Portal also hosts the extranet, which is the attorneys’ communication hot line to live and historical client discussions. We selected SharePoint because using the technology was just as easy as searching on the Web, and it would not require any training because it was similar to Microsoft Office.

To make this application even easier to use, we scrapped our existing user interfaces and created one interface across all applications. This would help streamline IT operations while cutting down on user training.

One of the most important requirements for the Portal was to ensure we could provide 24/7 availability to our attorneys. This meant that the Portal needed to be completely isolated from outages affecting IT, whether planned or unplanned. It was crucial that it be resilient and reliable.

The mandate from the top is that any amount of downtime is simply unacceptable. We needed a proven solution to ensure consistent uptime at our data centers in Chicago and Indiana, both of which are “hot,” which means they are running production systems. Both of these facilities simultaneously deliver access to mission-critical application services and are subject to routine maintenance. In an emergency, such as a tornado or power outage, one data center needs to be able to seamlessly host the entire business so the staff can have continuous access to business-critical information.

Andy Jurczyk is CIO at Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal, a law firm headquartered in Chicago.

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