Van servers naar services

From servers to services

IT trends tend to come in waves. From outsourcing, to insourcing, back to outsourcing again. From servers in your own broomcloset, to servers in the cloud, to taking them back on premises. Looking at the desktop, I spotted a new trend as well, fueled by the way we want to use modern applications like Teams. First we needed powerful workstations at every desk, then moved to lightweight laptops or even thin clients to log on to a VDI or Terminal Server like platform. Now computing power returns to the workplace.

Online meetings as a catalyst

This process is fueled by the acceleration we’re all making in using online meeting tools, requiring high quality streaming of video and audio. “Old school” cloud platforms often can’t facilitate this due to the high bandwidth needs. So it’s better to keep using these features locally for now, but that requires a computer that’s up to the task. We can also expect that Microsoft is preparing a big change in how we are going to use applications in Windows. The app store-like model for application distribution is coming to Windows.

The future for Enterprise based Windows is one where you own a powerful laptop or computer, that’s connected to your companies login (i.e. Microsoft EndPoint [formerly InTune]) and they choose for you which applications are available to you from the Microsoft app store. Microsoft has been name dropping the “cloud pc” or “Windows Reunion” to get ahead of this change. Your company’s management software sets up all the right configurations, compliant with your company rule book. The applications then take their information mostly from other cloud systems, like Microsoft 365 or another vendor of their choosing. Take for instance a DMS: data from a DMS like our own DMSforOffice or DMSforLegal can be used via both SharePoint and Teams. You get the exact same picture, except you choose through which frame you want to view it.

Choices in Tech Makes Decisions Easier

Because we’re using applications that work on all platforms (mobile, Windows, Mac, Cloud, Local Desktop) users no longer are locked in to specific platforms but have the freedom to live on whatever platform they prefer which makes their tech choices less critical from “what options do I have” perspective. It’s like when choosing a cloud provider: it’s no longer about speed or size, since all cloud providers are essentially equal, but about the specific core services that help you excel at your work.

It’s not about the hardware they have, but about the outcomes you are seeking for your business. Technology has been commoditised at such a high speed that so much is already possible with such low levels of capital investment, that you can now focus on the details and contractual elements of the service you seek to deploy. Which is, of course, being your specialty as a legal professional.

Looking three years ahead

It’s nearly impossible for organizations to create a strategy on technology that can last longer than three years. And that’s a good thing, because that is about the life cycle of an average hard- or software solution. In three years so much can change, that it’s very hard to predict the possibilities technology can offer in by then. If you do plan ahead that far, you may create an unintentional vendor lock in. That might keep you stuck in a technology you choose in the past, and is very hard to move away from. So by not focusing on technology, but more on service levels (and exit strategies) you can make your organisation more flexible and adaptable by working in the cloud.

Take it from me, in three years your IT infrastructure will look completely different from how it looks today. By then you’re not choosing your next server, but your next cloud. With new ways of working, new ways of using data and applications and a whole lot more freedom of choice.

If you want to learn more on using cloud services like Microsoft 365 for your organisation, feel free to download our whitepaper: Microsoft 365 for law firms and corporate legal.

Author: Bart van Wanroij – Managing Director Epona Legal