Cloud Computing and Metadata

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Cloud Computing

An Introduction for Law Firms

• Cloud computing is one of the most talked

about technology topics

• Different people have different definitions and

there are many misconceptions about cloud computing

• Business owners, especially lawyers, have

many questions and concerns about cloud computing

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Cloud Computing Defined

• Delivery of hosted technology services over

the Internet

• Services that were previously performed at

the workstation/server level are now being provided on a distant “host” computer

• The service that is provided could be just

about anything that was previously provided at the workstation/server level.

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Why Is It Called the Cloud?

• The name seems to fit perfectly but no one

person decided to call it the cloud

• The explanation is much simpler

• For years, the cloud symbol was used in

diagrams and flowcharts to represent a phone network and later computer network

• A cloud symbol seemed perfectly

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What Can You Do with Cloud

Computing?

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Storage

• Perhaps the simplest form of cloud computing • Store data at a hosted location

• Benefits include less money spent on local

infrastructure and support

• Possible drawbacks include security and data

availability

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Databases

• Enter and share data as if it was stored locally • Data can be accessed from anywhere

• Benefits include less money spent on local

infrastructure, software, maintenance and support

• Drawbacks are security and data availability • Cloud based databases include applications

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Information Services

• Information stored online that is searchable

and retrievable from anywhere

• Lawyers should easily relate to this one

because they have used Lexis and Westlaw online for years

• Benefits are the money saved on libraries and

local resources

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Applications

• Just about any application that can be run

locally can be run in the cloud

• Google Docs and Gmail are examples of

applications that were previously run locally but are now run in the cloud

• Benefit is the savings on software and

maintenance

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Platforms, Integrations and Testing

• This is an important aspect of cloud

computing that only developers, consultants and IT staff seem to appreciate

• We can use the cloud to deploy and test

solutions before we deploy them to your network

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Security

• Anti-virus, threat detection and other security

functions can be handled in the cloud

• Emails can be filtered at a host site and infected

or suspicious emails can be quarantined before they ever reach your computer

• Benefits include cost savings and peace of mind • Possible drawbacks are data availability and

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Infrastructure

• Some day you may work in an office without

“computers”

• A keyboard and monitor may someday be all

you need to connect to the Internet and do all of the things you currently do at your

workstations

• The potential to save money is huge but you

are really at the mercy of your infrastructure and Internet providers

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Cost of Hardware

• In the world of technology everything costs

money – servers, workstations, software, databases, etc.

• Cloud computing allows you to spend less

money on these items, especially hardware

• Online backup means you are spending less on

storage

• Online databases mean you might not have to

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Easy Expansion

• Today when you add an employee, you have

to purchase a new workstation for them, purchase additional software licenses, etc.

• In the cloud, you just tell your provider you

have a new employee and within minutes

your new employee can use the same services that everyone else does

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Fewer IT Staff

• Today’s law firms run on computer technology • Solo attorneys and smaller firms use local

network providers

• Larger firms have in-house dedicated

personnel and IT directors

• In the cloud, the hosting provider maintains

the applications it is responsible for

• There is the potential to save quite a bit of

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Security

• If your data is in the cloud, you no longer have

direct control over it

• Cloud technology providers will work very

hard to keep things secure as their reputations are at stake

• There is still a security risk

• After all, a technology provider with

thousands of customers (with thousands of clients each) is a tempting target

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Data Availability

• Currently you may be dependent on a

network of computers with a server

• If one workstation goes down you can swap in

another or if a server goes down you can get someone there to repair it right away

• In the cloud, if the provider is down or your

Internet connection is down – you are down

• What if the provider goes out of business

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Confidentiality

• As a law firm, you have a responsibility to protect

client information

• Does storing data in the cloud fulfill this

obligation

• Make sure you diligently examine the policies and

procedures of the provider

• A specific agreement between your firm and the

provider is even better

• Do you have a duty to tell your client their data is

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Discovery Implications

• In general, pre-trial discover can be made of

documents in the possession, custody or control of a party

• In the cloud, who has possession, custody and

control

• Does your client still have control? • Is the provider now a custodian

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A Few Final Words on Cloud

Computing

• When I hear about cloud computing, I cannot

help but think of the dot.com bubble in the late nineties

• Everyone was starting an Internet company

because it was a sure way to make money

• Most failed but the Internet did not

• Similarly, in my opinion, cloud computing is here

to stay but the provider landscape may drastically change over the next few years

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Metadata

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What is Metadata?

• Simply stated, Metadata is data about data

• Metadata tracks information about electronic

files and documents

• Metadata is the information about your

computer files and documents that you cannot see

• It is not necessarily a bad thing but it can have

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File Information

• Every file on your computer contains

metadata that tracks things like where it was saved, when it was last accessed or modified, etc.

• Right click on any file in Windows then look

under Properties to see this metadata

• In most cases, this information is not

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Document Metadata

• Metadata allows programs like Microsoft

Word to provide collaboration and revision tools

• When you use track changes, commenting or

any review tool in Word, these features are stored in metadata

• If you don’t turn them off before you send the

document out, someone else may be able to see this metadata

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Benefits of Metadata

• Metadata is not necessarily a bad thing • The ability to perform revision and

collaboration in Microsoft Word is a substantial benefit

• Microsoft did not develop these features to

put their customers in danger

• Without metadata, some of Word’s most

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Danger of Metadata

• The problem is that metadata often contains

information you don’t want others to see

• For example, when you make a revision, do

you really want someone to know what you changed if from?

• When viewed by the wrong person, metadata

can have consequences ranging from embarrassing to career threatening

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“Your Documents Took Me Forever”

• Lawyer promises a draft of a document to a

client on July 1 but sends it out for review on July 7 because it took much longer to draft than he originally thought

• Client looks at the metadata and sees total

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“Your Estate Plan Costs as Much as It

Does Because of the Individual

Attention We Give Your Documents”

• A lawyer justifies his estate planning flat fee

because of the personal attention each document receives

• A client, named Jones, looks at the metadata

and sees that the documents were originally created for someone named Smith

• A simple find and replace was used and the

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“Hmmm, I Wonder Why They Reduced

Their Demand?”

• A lawyer sends out a settlement demand to an

insurance company on behalf of their client

• The insurance company reviews the metadata

and sees that the amount demanded was reduced in the final draft from $100,000 to $25,000

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Avoiding Metadata

• Don’t Send Word or Excel Documents via Email • Use Acrobat or Another PDF Application

• Use a Metadata Cleaner

– Microsoft has a tool called Inspect Document in Word

2007. Look for it under the Office button

– One leading metadata cleaner is Metadata Assistant

by Payne Consulting

– Workshare (previously Deltaview) also has a tool for

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Viewing Metadata

• If this presentation has made you curious about

metadata, here are some ways to take a look at some

• Right click any file in Windows and select

Properties

• A text editor like the old DOS “Edit” will show you

some metadata, although it is not that easy to read

• Any metadata cleaner will show you the

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Jeffrey S. Krause Contact Info

Krause Practice Management, LLC 5002 Mesa Court Waterford, WI 53185 262-806-7218

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