Established in 1980, Cooper Grace Ward is one of the largest independent law firms in Brisbane, with more than 20 partners and over 200 team members.
The firm’s commitment to providing their clients with the best possible legal services is supported by a substantial and strategic investment in technology. This included the early adoption of an on-premises virtualised desktop infrastructure (VDI) – an industry-first initiative at the time.
In 2013, Cooper Grace Ward engaged Global Storage to move their technology from the firm’s on-premises data centre to CloudReady, Global Storage’s fully integrated cloud infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS).
Damon Graham, Director – Information Technology, joined Cooper Grace Ward in 2018, after 14 years in senior technology roles at Ernst and Young. As an industry veteran with global experience, Graham was impressed with the firm’s technology environment, but identified a primary infrastructure challenge he was keen to address.
“Our partnership with Global Storage was working well, and everything they provided us aligned with our technology strategy,” he says. “However, we’d been having issues with repeated system crashes and inconsistent performance of the VDI environment.” Graham saw it as the number one operational challenge to tackle from an infrastructure point of view.
“As we were coming to the end of the original agreement with Global Storage in 2019, we went out to market just to see what was out there,” says Graham. “It was a good exercise to go through, although, from a partnership point of view, there was little appetite to move away from Global Storage.”
The new CloudReady, fuelled by NetApp
Fully committed to meeting Cooper Grace Ward’s needs, Global Storage assessed the technologies available to refresh their offering.
“While NetApp has other solutions that typically suit much larger businesses than are common in Australia, their latest HCI offering was perfect for our VDI platform refresh in terms of capabilities and timing,” says Gavin Hoffmann, Sales and Marketing Director – Global Storage.
On top of NetApp’s superior storage and security capabilities, Global Storage also delivered an enhanced VMware Horizon version as part of the package.
“Like Cooper Grace Ward, we use VMWare Horizon in conjunction with VMware Cloud Director to power our internal VDI and IaaS environment, along with several other add-ons, including monitoring software such as VMware Cloud Director Availability,” says Hoffmann. “Cooper Grace Ward had already set a benchmark for CloudReady, so we collaborated closely with Damon on transitioning to the right complementary technology.”
The combination of CloudReady and Global Storage’s VDIaaS Platform has allowed Cooper Grace Ward to accelerate their mobility plans.
The disaster recovery factor
Graham says that Global Storage’s commitment to strengthening CloudReady and their focus on disaster recovery (DR) was impressive.
We looked at a lot of IaaS proposals that had backup and DR tacked on. This just reconfirmed to us that Global Storage’s credentials in that space stand out as a distinguishing factor in the market. It’s their significant point of differentiation.
Director – Information Technology
When evaluating the partner proposals, Graham homed in on ‘like-for-like’: what Cooper Grace Ward was getting from Global Storage compared to their competitors.
“The Global Storage offering was already providing us with half-hour snapshots (so we would only lose 30 minutes of work in a worst-case scenario) and six-monthly tests of our DR to prove it works. Competitor offerings were needing us to decide which servers were critical in terms of defining our Recovery Time Objectives (RTO) and Recovery Point Objectives (RPO) in order to be competitive on price.”
Service and Support
Graham was already highly satisfied with Global Storage’s commitment to 100% uptime and 99.99% data recovery, both guaranteed as standard offerings in their service level agreements. But it was the level of support that really impressed him.
“It’s not uncommon for Cooper Grace Ward to have legal teams working at various times of the day and night” Graham says. “An outage, especially in the small hours, is stressful and impacts deadlines and costs. I very much appreciate the on-call availability and positive attitude of Global Storage engineers, who have become an extension of our team.”
A Quick, Clean Cutover
The quality of the ongoing partnership, along with the time, research and effort Global Storage put into designing and building a better overall solution paid off. Cooper Grace Ward happily renewed the contract.
The migration to the upgraded CloudReady solution and VDI platform was seamless and painless. It only took a few hours over a weekend to move and test, and it was business-as- usual for Cooper Grace Ward on Monday morning.
The ideal disaster recovery and backup solution
“Global Storage’s partnership with NetApp benefited us greatly,” says Graham. “And refreshing our VDI platform solved the last piece of the puzzle. A robust VDI solution can reduce your TCO by as much as 50%, when compared to a traditional fat client on a three- year laptop refresh cycle. We still get all the security benefits too, so in cases of infection with malware, a PC or laptop can be wiped clean and restored to a pristine state within moments. We don’t have to worry about application packaging and most importantly data is at rest in a secure data centre and not distributed on various laptops which can be left in a taxi.”
“During COVID-19, our full VDI environment meant we could all pick up and go home to work remotely and securely. Global Storage and NetApp have been instrumental in making the user experience stable, fast and completely mobile.”
Focussing on Success
“Everyone is happy with where we now are,” says Graham. Shifting the emphasis from an operational focus to concentrating on their digital transformation strategy means the firm can focus on the role technology plays in delivering their legal services. “We can now look beyond the immediate horizon created by market conditions. So, it’s a success story.”
Graham worked with all the big providers before he joined Cooper Grace Ward. “And I had the purchasing power that comes with those multibillion-dollar businesses,” he says.
“But it’s the customer focus from Global Storage and the team from NetApp that made all the difference. Their values just shone through in a way that I hadn’t experienced before.”