Law firm lays down a disaster recovery plan

Goodman and Carr LLP, a full-service business law firm in Toronto with 325 employees, is not unlike many businesses today: It needs uninterrupted site availability and uptime for its e-mail and document management systems. Its information technology capabilities are also its requirements. As a result, when systems are down it is not a mere inconvenience, but a threat to the law firm’s business.

As a result, Goodman and Carr went looking for a high-availability disaster recovery solution. They chose Neverfail by Fusepoint Managed Services Inc., a provider of outsourced IT solutions, to implement and manage a fully mirrored high-availability business continuity solution. The law firm’s e-mail and document management systems are backed up at Fusepoint’s live secondary production environment in Mississauga, Ont.

George Kerns, Fusepoint’s CEO, explains that Goodman and Carr saw the economic rationale. “Time is money in that business,” he says. “There is a plain economic case for this. It’s easy to figure out how much a couple hours of downtime costs.”

Mark Bonner, IT Director for Goodman and Carr, agrees. “With startup costs at about $800 a lawyer, and ongoing costs at $400 per lawyer per annum, this is not a hard sell,” says Bonner. The initial costs include Fusepoint’s Neverfail solution, as well as the installation. Ongoing costs include the pipe, cabinet charges, software maintenance and depreciation on servers.

It was Bonner who championed the plan and Fusepoint. The lawyers at Goodman and Carr weren’t necessarily losing sleep worrying about floods, fires and pandemics, but he was. He was also hearing some grumbling when systems were down for maintenance, patches and upgrades. “Some of the clients are using the system through a Web-based portal,” he says. “If we are down, it is not just our own people that we have to tell — we have to tell our clients, too.”

The increased adoption of mobile devices was a driver, as was the shift away from paper and remote scanning capabilities. Lawyers and their clients need remote access to documents 24/7. “We were asking attorneys to be down for an eight-hour stretch over the weekend,” says Bonner. “Attorneys don’t like that.”

The appeal of Fusepoint was in part due to the solid SLA, and SAS 70 and CICA 5900 compliance. As well, Fusepoint emphasized the importance of a disaster recovery plan to safeguard corporate reputation, a message that resonated with Goodman and Carr. Bonner wanted site replication on a minute-by-minute basis, something that Fusepoint could offer. “Having a system fail over is one thing; bringing it back is another,” he says. “Often, people hang back, because they want to make sure that the stuff they worked on at the remote site comes back cleanly. Neverfail uses the same IP address and server names. I’ve physically pulled the plug, and it works.”

As is often the case, Fusepoint also benefited from a solid recommendation from Goodman and Carr’s network vendor, AMH Communications. AMH has been working with Goodman and Carr for a number of years, and was familiar with the company’s Exchange servers and network infrastructure. This definitely gives a hot-site vendor like Fusepoint an advantage, given that AMH consulted and helped with the Neverfail implementation. 079083

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