Three Leading Law Firms Virtualize Desktops - The End User Perspective

Posted by Tom Rose on Jul 24, 2013

One thing that’s great about being in high tech is you get to work with customers who are visionaries. Take Monday’s announcement, for example, that three of our legal customers have replaced their physical PCs with virtual desktops firm-wide. If you’re in IT, you know that selling this to their end users couldn't have been easy - at least not at first. People can become very set in their ways.

That’s especially true in the legal field. My cousin and my sister are both attorneys, and they don’t like change. It’s not that they’re afraid of technology. It’s just that they are always under extreme pressure to satisfy their clients and maximize billable hours. They don’t have time to spend learning something new, even if it has the potential to make them more productive. Heck, my cousin didn’t even use email until 5 years ago!

That’s what makes Bernstein Shur, Miller Johnson, Procopio, and the IT teams who implemented the VDI projects at these firms visionaries. It would have been easy to keep buying new PCs. But each saw tremendous opportunity in moving to Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). The attorneys and staffs at these firms are now using virtual desktops created and managed by Unidesk. Two of the firms access their Unidesk desktops through VMware View. The other is using Citrix XenDesktop.

Matt Kramer, Director of IT at Bernstein Shur, explains why: "Our workforce is pushing outside the four walls of our offices, so being able to provide a consistent experience while they’re on the move is a big benefit. Our attorneys can now start reviewing a document on their virtual desktop at the office, and securely pick up right where they left off from their home PC or tablet."

Here are more reasons why the attorneys and staffs at these three law firms are going to love their virtual desktops:

  • Access – Legal work requires a lot of specialized applications. Most are Windows apps, and won’t be moving to the cloud anytime soon. With VDI, attorneys can now access HP Autonomy Worksite, OpenText eDOCS, Thomson Reuters Elite Enterprise, Summation Pro, Trial Director, Winscribe, and the many other Windows apps and plug-ins they need from any device. Thin clients, home PCs, and iPads can all serve up exactly the apps they need, so they can respond faster to client needs.
  • Mobility – Attorneys are often on the move, running between the office, various courts, client meetings, and home. The same virtual desktops can now be accessed from any of these locations. No more switching between work and home PCs. Or lugging laptops around and docking them.
  • Recoverability – Everyone knows someone who has lost important data because they didn’t back up their PC. In law offices where busy attorneys store their work on C: drives and are rarely in the office long enough to run a backup, this is a risk. With desktops hosted in the data center, however, this risk is gone. Critical data and documents are no longer stored on local PC disk drives. They are now safely protected along with the rest of the desktop in each firm’s virtualized private cloud.
  • Efficiency – It’s a real time-waster when you switch PCs and your icons and apps aren’t the same. Or your desktop is missing an app after an IT patch. With their new virtual desktops, attorneys and staff can now pick up right where they left off. The desktops are persistent, so all personal preferences, apps, and plug-ins are preserved, even through IT updates. Most of the time, the desktops are always on, so work can be resumed from the last point, even if access is from a different device.
  • Support – Physical PCs are hard to fix when something goes wrong. Either the desktop is re-imaged and all user configurations are blown away. Or, an advanced IT expert spends hours trying to figure out what registry key or file wreaked havoc on Windows or a key app. In both cases, the user loses a lot of productivity. At these three law firms, desktops can now be fixed in minutes, without losing custom settings or configs. Unidesk User layer snapshots capture the last good desktop state. If there's a problem, a previous snapshot is selected and the desktop is simply rebuilt. Says Craig Crosby, Director of Information Services at Procopio, "Quick desktop repair enables our IT team to work more efficiently, and in turn makes our users more effective.”

But it’s not all about the end users. Tomorrow, I’ll talk about the benefits that the IT teams at these law firms are seeing from VDI.

Topics: Citrix XenDesktop, Customers, VMware Horizon View, Legal

Posted by Tom Rose on Jul 24, 2013

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