Client Success Story – Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams, & Sheppard LLP

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The 32 attorneys and staff of Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams, & Sheppard LLP (CDAS) represent and counsel clients in the areas of entertainment law, publishing, art law, copyright, trademark, trusts and estates, real estate, commercial/corporate transactions, digital media and litigation. The technology infrastructure required to handle this successful law firm’s transactions is substantial, and CDAS trusts its infrastructure to the technology professionals at Net at Work.

A Hot Issue
As the New York-based firm grew and added attorneys and staff including offices on the U.S. West Coast and in New Zealand, the need for enhanced accessibility and connectivity grew with them. CDAS knew it needed to phase out its offsite hosted e-mail service and replace it with Microsoft Exchange Server, as well as centralized onsite systems to manage an increasing need for users to log in remotely. However, doing so would have required the firm to bring in additional servers and cooling issues in the server room proved difficult to surmount.

The firm explored purchasing additional air conditioning for the space, but the expense extended far beyond the cost of the equipment. “Changes in the cooling systems called for negotiations with the building owners, permits, architects, and renovations that would have tripled the cost of the server project itself,” explains Kenneth Robinson, Manager of Operations and IT for CDAS. “Also, it would have been an investment the firm would lose if we ever changed offices.”

Cool Thinking Prevails
Robinson proposed that the firm move to a virtual server environment where less equipment would be required. The servers themselves can be virtually split to perform the work of two or more servers and the remote terminal workstations would be traded for virtual workstations running on the server. “At the time, we were working with another IT provider, but they didn’t have enough experience with virtual servers,” Robinson recalls. “We went looking for an IT firm with the required expertise and found Net at Work.”

The team at Net at Work impressed Robinson from the first meeting. “I’ve dealt with a lot of IT providers,” he says. “Often there is a real disconnect between sales and engineering. You start by talking to the sales representative and some of what you communicate is lost by the time it reaches the engineers. These are just walls that block problem-solving. Technology changes so quickly and we cannot afford crossed signals as we plan and deploy scalable, integrated systems that need to fit each other, our needs, and our budget piece by piece,” says Robinson. “At Net at Work, there are none of these walls. Their sales representatives and engineers are highly qualified consultants who know what they are talking about.”

Virtual Victory
Net at Work designed, installed, and configured a virtual server environment for CDAS. Net at Work also implemented Microsoft Exchange Server allowing the firm to manage its e-mail internally. New, centrally administered virtual workstations support the increased number of employees working off site. “We invested in our systems instead of the building’s,” Robinson says. “Even if we brought in cooling equipment, we could not have kept adding to our hardware footprint and heat output to support our growth – there just wasn’t room or cooling capacity. Instead we moved to a scalable virtual environment that will meet our needs for a long time.” Net at Work deployed a BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) to support CDAS’ growing number of handheld devices. “The use of BlackBerry devices had quadrupled and BES gives us real-time synchronization between the devices and our Exchange server,” explains Robinson.

“This is about the day-to-day operation and long range planning of a business that never sleeps. We deal in many time zones, and with many clients and attorneys in and outside the office, all of whom depend on secure, mobile, full-uptime systems to maintain a demanding pace for collaboration and turnaround. The system power to hold that edge and to be scalable enough to enhance it as we grow is not a luxury, it’s a critical part of our success.”

Positioned For The Future
“Net at Work helped us overcome our existing limitations,” Robinson concludes. “Now our network is more flexible, powerful, and secure. With Net at Work’s help, we maintain that competitive edge.”