Cloud Computing Transforms IT

By Samuel Greengard

The challenges of operating a 21st century law firm aren’t lost on Matthew Donehoo. With attorneys scattered across the country and a need to access documents and data on a 24x7x365 basis, there’s absolutely no room for glitches, problems and breakdowns—and files must be stored securely. “The demand on IT systems, particularly storage, is growing exponentially,” notes the director of information systems for Segal McCambridge Singer & Mahoney.

The Chicago-based law firm, which operates offices in seven states, views technology performance as an open-and-shut case. “Over the last 15 years, we grew from about 30 gigabytes of total data to more than 40 terabytes,” Donehoo says. What’s more, with storage demands being highly variable and new cases often requiring additional IT infrastructure and storage on short notice, Segal McCambridge recognized that it needed a more flexible architecture. “We required a whole new level of scalability that hadn’t been available in the past,” he explains.

The solution? Segal McCambridge turned to cloud computing. The firm now relies on an environment that provides primary data storage, offsite disaster recovery and global multisite access within a highly secure public cloud. No less important: The firm can dial up storage capacity on demand, rather than maintaining a massive inventory of extra storage. “We’re more agile and more efficient,” Donehoo says.

Segal McCambridge isn’t alone. Despite practical challenges and security concerns, organizations across a wide swath of industries are adopting cloud solutions to become more connected, cost-efficient and nimble. A recent Tata Consultancy Services study of more than 600 firms worldwide found that cloud computing is growing rapidly. U.S. organizations now have 19 percent of their applications in the cloud, while counterparts in Asia, Europe and Latin America now top 50 percent.

“There is a growing awareness of the benefits of a cloud infrastructure,” says Ananth Krishnan, chief technology officer at Tata Consultancy Services. “It’s allowing organizations to standardize technology and processes and achieve gains that weren’t possible in the past.”

Adds Andrew Greenway, global cloud program lead at Accenture: “Organizations of every shape and size—and across every industry—are becoming increasingly comfortable with IT as a service, rather than buying components and building their own IT services.”