International legal practice Osborne Clarke may have been founded in 1748, but it thrives on being approachable and dispenses with stuffiness and pointless tradition. Its forward-thinking attitude has helped attract industry-leading commercial clients including Yahoo, Google and Facebook and has helped the firm grow to a top-tier legal practice of more than 600 lawyers based in eight countries across Europe, North America and supporting a site in Asia.
Osborne Clarke’s lawyers’ demands keep the firm at the forefront of technology innovation - and that means using Kemp Technologies advanced load balancing systems to achieve maximum reliability and ensure business-critical applications perform 24 hours a day.
The lifeblood of any law firm is the mass of documents it processes, and Osborne Clarke uses its three Kemp LoadMaster systems to ensure its core Microsoft Exchange email and Worksite and SharePoint document management systems remain available 99.9% of the time. The load balancers also help optimise its specialist legal applications including BigHand, an application allowing lawyers to dictate letters whilst on the move, DTE Axiom for time recording/billing, and Vuture for marketing.
Osborne Clarke Enterprise Architect, Jon Garrett, explains: “Kemp’s LoadMasters support all of our applications crucial for the day-to-day running of the business; any loss of service would impact the performance or impression of the firm.”
Osborne Clarke’s team deployed an HA pair of devices in its main Bristol data centre with a single LoadMaster in the London backup site. The solutions manage its heavy volume of email and web traffic. The firm processes approximately 9,000 genuine emails an hour between 1,300 active users in its 18 offices across Europe and North America and supporting sites in Asia. The easy-to-deploy and simple-to-install Kemp solution ensures data is handled in the fastest and most efficient way, allowing the firm to switch its processing load around as required. For example the team can now safely take individual servers offline to perform vital maintenance and patching, without disrupting its users.
It was this issue that first persuaded Osborne Clarke to buy the Kemp load balancers to replace a previous Microsoft solution. Garrett explained: “We were not happy with the Microsoft network load balancing, it was unstable and slow. It also did not allow us to take a Client Access Server out of service safely to perform maintenance and we need to do that — we are a 24/7/365 firm.”
The Kemp systems were easy to install and have proved to be reliable ever since, Garrett said. “Initially it took about two hours to get them running and the Exchange templates and configuration loaded. We then switched over to using them in about an hour during a downtime window. We have found the LoadMasters ‘best in breed’ for supporting Exchange and they have done exactly what they say on the tin.”
“Service and support are great,” Garrett said. “I would recommend the Kemp technology to others, it’s easy-to-use and the support team have been responsive whenever we have needed them.”
Garrett added: “A valuable feature of the Kemp LoadMaster solution is support for our LANDesk incident management system. This allows the firm to offload the task of checking the ‘SSL certificates’ that verify the authenticity of any website user’s contact.”
For the future, Garrett sees the Kemp systems continuing to play a key role in Osborne Clarke’s strategy to build more international data centres. “We are in the process of identifying new data centres that will allow us to provide services in a ‘follow-the-sun’ manner,” he said. “This will allow our IT team to backup and maintain services while the user load is moved away as a new time zone comes online. This is part of our Global Strategy and Kemp Technologies’ LoadMaster and GEO products will enable us to deliver on our vision for a highly available and robust network to deliver services to our fee earners.”