Recently, LexisNexis announced the selection of an “authorized hosting provider” for their Time Matters and PCLaw software applications.  This continues a trend we’ve seen in the software industry: the move of traditional, so-called “legacy” software to hosting providers, in response to customers’ demands for remote access from anywhere. We’re pleased to see this announcement since by selecting an “authorized” provider, it signals that LexisNexis is ready to support these applications in hosted environments. However, by using that term, a closer look at the fine print in any hosting contract being considered is needed.

Last week’s press release from LexisNexis stated the following:

“LexisNexis is committed to providing world-class service and support to its clients, and acknowledges that not every cloud services provider is sufficiently equipped to manage the nuances of hosting their legal software products and supporting the legal community at large. To ensure an optimal customer experience, LexisNexis developed a new Authorized Hosting Program so that companies that provide hosting services for LexisNexis products meet the highest standards of reliability, security, ethics and support. This new program and its requirements, developed in consultation with Uptime Legal, were designed with the singular purpose of providing a best-in-class experience to customers of Time Matters and PCLaw.”

Some members of the Crosspointe team already work with Uptime Legal and are complimentary about the company and its services.

And we agree with LexisNexis that not every cloud service provider can meet the system requirements for all applications.  Therefore, as software consultants, we would like to suggest some questions to pose to potential candidates for those of you who would consider any hosting provider for your software applications:

  1. Performance – What hardware does the hosting service provide? What are the upload and download speeds of your own machines when working with the provider?  (Always test your laptops, tablets, etc. with the provider during the selection process.)  Is the performance the same when several users from your organization are accessing it online, versus only 1 or 2?  If your applications require external databases such as Microsoft SQL Server, does the provider supply the licenses for it?  Is there redundancy to ensure against data loss?  What options does the provider give in the event users cannot access the internet?
  2. Pricing – What is provided with the base charge – is it per person? Per month?  Is there a discount if payment is based on an annual contract?  If upload and download speeds are slow, does the provider promise enhanced speeds for additional costs?  More importantly – what is the charge for space needed for data backups?  Are there surcharges for data backup to external sources?  Also, bear in mind that hosting providers may insist that customers use the latest versions of their software applications, which means the hosting provider will insist that an Annual Maintenance Plan – or some other subscription – be in place, and will download and install those upgrades on their schedule.  Will you as the customer have influence on the timing of those upgrades?
  3. Access – If pricing is based on a per user basis, will access be granted for your software consultant or other external users? We’ve seen situations where we’ll need to contact the hosting provider, wait for a substantial amount of time, and then have a hosting service tech open a window on the tech’s computer where you can use your screen-sharing program to access the tech’s Remote Desktop window into the server.  This is neither efficient nor cost-effective, to say the least.
  4. Knowledge – We see a trend where authorized hosting providers are selected by a software company because at least one person on their staff qualified as knowledgeable about their product. What is that qualification?  Several software firms have more than one level of certification.  How many of the staff at the hosting company are qualified on that product?  Is it technical knowledge only, or can they answer questions about how the application is to be used?  What is their knowledge about other products that may need to be integrated with that application?  If the hosting staff is not certified on other products, what is their policy on allowing your consultants access to your hosted applications?

Our staff at Crosspointe Consulting Group work with several remote access/hosting providers and would be happy to recommend candidates that meet your firm’s needs and requirements.  Call us at 877-357-0555 or write to us at info@crosspointecg.com.  If you are considering a move to the Cloud, make sure the Cloud that you select is the right one for your firm.