A Florida law firm raises defense with Clumio cloud backup

With aging backup storage hardware and most employees on virtual desktops, Morgan & Morgan found it made more sense to switch to Clumio cloud backup when renewal time came.

When the time came to renew its Veeam license, law firm Morgan & Morgan presented evidence that it was better to forego hardware-based backup and move to the cloud.

A few months ago, the law firm, based in Orlando, Fla., switched to AWS-based backup vendor Clumio after finding plenty of motive to move out of the data center. The subscription cost for renewing its Veeam backup license was increasing, the storage hardware holding the Veeam backup copies was aging and COVID-19 greatly increased the number of employees working from home.

Ryan Colbert, CIO of Morgan & Morgan, shopped around and compared costs before deciding on a Clumio purchase. He said he did proofs of concept with many legacy backup providers and found that they sold their software with a hardware component, leading to total purchasing costs of half a million dollars or more. Clumio was the only cloud-first vendor Colbert looked at, and he found during the proof of concept that it wrote the same workloads faster and at one-tenth the cost. The significant cost difference led Colbert to conclude there was no reason to continue investing in storage hardware for backup.

"Rather than investing into that technology, we decided to move that money over toward a cloud solution," Colbert said.

Ryan Colbert, CIO at Morgan & MorganRyan Colbert

Morgan & Morgan relies heavily on virtual desktops. With over 100 offices and 3,000 employees spread across the United States, the law firm keeps a light infrastructure presence at each office. Colbert described each site as little more than a window back into one of four regional data centers located in Fort Myers, Fla.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Orlando and Atlanta. Individual offices don't even have IT personnel on site unless they have more than 100 end users or are particularly high-tech with a lot of conference rooms. Colbert added he has plans to consolidate the regional data centers down to two.

With Clumio, all of Morgan & Morgan's backup is stored on AWS rather than on premises, which was a departure from what Colbert's team was used to. Colbert said even after demonstrating Clumio's backup and recovery capabilities, he had to fight to convince his team to make them fully see what it could do. Their understanding of backup and disaster recovery (DR) was data center-centric. Clumio, as far as they were concerned, was just off-site backup. They didn't grasp the concept that Clumio could restore everything directly into AWS vCloud instances for DR in addition to recovering to on premises.

"I had to push them to look at things that were a little less traditional," Colbert said, adding that Clumio's cost was dramatically lower, ultimately swaying the purchasing decision.

Colbert said implementing Clumio was as simple as switching off Veeam, but he still has storage arrays housing backup sets from Veeam. He said he has no plans to migrate this data over to AWS, and it will age out eventually.

COVID-19-ready by circumstance

Morgan & Morgan's reliance on virtual desktops, lessened the impact that COVID-19 had on the law firm's day-to-day IT functions. End users normally log in to a virtual desktop from their machines in the office, and now they do the same from home.

"Fortunate for us, we already had VDI fully deployed. When COVID hit, we just transitioned everybody to work from home on any device they had available," Colbert said.

Still, Colbert had to figure a way to let Morgan & Morgan's lawyers handle court cases, while working from home. "Lawyers and court systems are very paper-driven," Colbert said, so over the last six months, he and his team came up with technology replacements for printing physical documents, mailing them and receiving them.

Colbert used APIs in Salesforce and the Litify law practice management application to create ways to work around the paper problem. He abstracted away the need to physically receive mail by having everything imaged and delivered via software, which can automatically profile the mail and determine which court case it's associated with. Litify can also send physical mail with every possible USPS delivery option, such as Certified and Restricted. Finally, for service of process documents that must be delivered (sometimes by hand) by process servers, Morgan & Morgan virtually sends them to a company that Colbert described as an "Uber for process servers."

Morgan & Morgan uses OwnBackup to protect its Salesforce environments.

Even though he's implemented technology workarounds to allow Morgan & Morgan's lawyers to do their work entirely from home, Colbert is confident people at the firm will want to return to normal when it's safe to do so. As a legal service, Morgan & Morgan is considered essential and never closed during COVID-19. With offices off-limits, lawyers were conducting consultations with their clients and holding team meetings over phone and Zoom. Colbert said these were poor substitutes for physical contact.

"People want to connect. They want physical proximity," Colbert said.

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