Type the words “law cloud” into Google and you’ll get, as of this writing, some 395,000,000 results. Change the search up slightly to “legal cloud” and there are slightly fewer results, at around 250,000,000.
This makes it clear that there are a lot of people searching for information about cloud-based technology within the legal profession. And while the cloud isn’t new technology, it has gained a lot of traction among the legal community as of late. As such, the topic is still new to many lawyers and legal professionals.
Clearing Up “The Cloud”
Understandably, many people naturally still have questions because, arguably, the term itself “the cloud” is a bit nebulous. For me it conjures up an image of a mysterious voice from the sky announcing “THE LAW CLOUD!” in a thunderous voice.
Sometimes the best way to understand a new concept is to relate it to something we already know. Here are five ways to answer that burning question: “What is the cloud?”
In the simplest terms, cloud computing means storing and accessing data and programs over the Internet instead of your computer’s hard drive. The cloud is just a metaphor for the Internet.
Cloud computing is like the public water supply. Once, everyone had to find and maintain their own supply of water. Now we simply turn on the tap when we need water and turn it off when we are done.
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Rental cars are available when and where you need them. When you rent a car, you pay only for the time you use it. Booking a rental car is easy to do by yourself. The rental car company has a large number of vehicles that it can rent, and can buy more cars to rent if there are consistently many requests.
It is just like owning offices in a building. You can change the rooms around and add drapes, carpeting, paint the walls and put in your own furniture. You can also add more office space, as you grow. And, every “tenant” gets the same service within the building. Security, electricity, telephone, LAN cabling, water, air conditioning, etc. etc. All these things the tenants wouldn’t need to worry about and that is the same with cloud computing.
Seriously: you drop off your shirts, they put them in a bag with your name on it, and they’re processed and stored awaiting your pickup. This process meets the fundamental characteristics of cloud:
– Elastic: You can bring in one shirt or 100
– Shared: Everything is washed together
– Usage-based: You pay by the shirt
– Supports many devices: You can bring in all sorts of clothes
– Self-provisioning: Self-service dry cleaning is possible
Finally, in the process of researching good analogies to explain cloud technology, we stumbled on this Quora post asking for analogies to describe analogies, which uses clouds:
Analogies are like clouds. When we observe them, it puts new meaning into abstract forms. They come and go quickly. They can be beautiful, cheery, funny, or menacing, and they are largely over my head.
Do these five examples help clear things up for you? What analogies have you heard to describe the law cloud?
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