To host or not to host? That is the question.

Posted by Esther Labindao |3 minute read

Jan 27, 2021 2:51:49 PM

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As the Director of Client Services at Ricoh eDiscovery, I consult with clients on the best method to manage their litigation databases. While each firm differs in how they operate (and with which tools), there is always one question that comes up: is it better to use a desktop or cloud solution?

The truth is there is no right answer. Deciding between the two options depends on your unique needs and desired outcomes. In this blog, I will share the difference between desktop and cloud solutions, and the instances when it may be better to opt for one option over the other.

What is the difference between desktop and cloud solutions?

A desktop solution is software that is installed directly on a user’s workstation. When using a desktop solution, you must be connected to your network to access your database. This means that if you are working remotely, you will need to stay connected to your firms’ network via VPN or CITRIX. Although desktop solutions lack some features that cloud-based alternatives offer, they are easy to manage and provide firms with complete control over how their system is maintained.

A cloud solution (otherwise known as a “hosted” solution) is a web-based system that allows you to access the platform and cases from any machine on the internet via a web browser. Cloud solutions are a good option for those who are not looking to heavily invest in the software, infrastructure or resources needed to maintain a powerful tool.

Firms often have a vendor host their cloud solution because it alleviates them from the responsibility of updating software, as well as maintaining the SQL servers and infrastructure. With these administrative duties taken care of, they can then focus their resources on billable tasks and reviewing data. Vendors also provide firms access to highly qualified and certified experts to ensure that the database is set up properly and being used to its full potential.

When is it best to use a desktop solution?

If your firm’s cases are small in size, do not require analytics, are restricted to a limited budget and/or do not require external access from a third-party, a desktop solution is a good option. These solutions are also helpful for firms who may not be able to house SQL servers or have the resources needed to administer and maintain additional servers. While desktop solutions require less maintenance since they do not need any additional infrastructure, it is important to note these solutions must have administrators who can periodically run maintenance on the databases.

When is it best to use a cloud solution?

If your firm handles matters that are high in data size, include large document counts or require analytics, a cloud solution is your best bet. In addition to analytics, cloud solutions offer several features such as Continuous Active Learning (CAL), email threading and near-duplicate detection which help save time with large-scale cases. Additionally, external parties can securely access a firm’s cloud solution which is especially helpful when working with an extended review team.

If your firm handles small matters, using a cloud solution is still highly beneficial. Firms of any size can outsource hosting to vendors to utilize their expertise in the platform from start to finish as well as take advantage of their project management services. In fact, outsourcing allows smaller firms to access technology they may not otherwise be able to bring in-house due to infrastructure or budgetary constraints.

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If you’re somewhere between the two options, it’s important to note that some firms make the most of both worlds by keeping smaller cases in a desktop solution such as IPRO Eclipse SE or IPRO Desktop and outsourcing larger cases to a cloud solution. A managed service offering allows firms to have as many cases as possible within the hosted solution regardless of the size.

Have questions about your unique situation? Be sure to reach out to us today. We’re happy to help you navigate which solutions is right for your organization.


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