Resolution Law Group is a nation-wide US law firm. By deploying Availl WAFS (Wide Area File System) software it saw a terrific gain in file open time at its remote offices. Instead of experiencing 5 to 10 minute delays as files opened across the firm's VPN (virtual private network), Availl WAFS allowed Resolution Law Group attorneys in all of its offices to work in real time on the same shared files.
In the US legal business cross-site legal teams are the norm, and the integrity of client records is paramount. For Resolution Law Group its deployment of Availl's WAFS product provided a great boost to cross-office performance and also guaranteed integrity to electronic client records.
"Our business is distributed across multiple offices and other remote locations, and our work product requires a high degree of confidentiality as well as efficiency," said Brian Zagon, president of Resolution Law Group.
Resolution Law has offices across the USA including northern and southern California, Washington DC and Indianapolis. It focuses on environmental risk, insurance, and securities arbitration. The firm added its Los Angeles area office and expanded its San Francisco Bay area office and staff in the past year. These additions increased the pressure on its network of Windows servers and storage at each site.
"Attorneys use every minute of their day productively, and couldn't endure the lengthy delays for the simple computing tasks that we were performing. With Availl, we took end user performance to a whole new level," said Chris Peckham, Resolution Law Group's network administrator.
File lockingSince legal staff in different offices collaborate on the same client's case, keeping individual silos of files in each office wasn't an option. As demands for access to the hundreds of thousands of files on its network increased, so did the delays in opening files across its Resolution Law's T1-based VPN. Concerns also mounted about making sure all files were kept up to date.
"We realized that real-time, coherent, cross-site file locking capabilities in particular were critical for business," Peckham said. "Ensuring that all users can open any file, but only one opens read/write means that work never stops, and no conflicts are possible. No other solution provided file locking as well as acceptable access speeds at any distance."
Resolution Law Group first deployed Availl WAFS in mid-2005, then rolled out additional offices by the summer's end. The deployment was pretty quick and pretty. Availl WAFS is software running on existing Resolution Law Windows servers and the download can be configured in under 15 minutes.
Many WAN optimization or application acceleration approaches focus only on network acceleration of consolidated data. Availl's WAFS does more because it optimises remote office file sharing, eliminating network protocol chattiness and supporting most every file type. It also does the standard WAFS thing of achieving dramatic bandwidth reductions but better than most. For example, at Resolution Law Group, users all access identical files at local LAN speed, but cannot overwrite each other - critical for legal document integrity - while sharing the same file.
The firm's WAFS deployment also provided true real-time, continuous remote backup, assuring multiple points of redundancy 24 hours a day. The solution also assures business continuity to every office in the event of a network outage.
Bandwidth fell by 75 percent"Our users are ecstatic that they have access to all files throughout the firm at local access speeds," said Peckham. "At the same time, I know our WAN utilization decreased by as much as 75 percent - freeing our network to operate all that much more efficiently."
Unlike WAFS solutions based on packet acceleration and caching technology, Availl WAFS is a true real-time, server-to-server, coherent mirror which delivers local LAN file access speed. On top of that files are always 100 percent coherent everywhere. If any server or the network fails, all other systems continue to function uninterrupted. Full failover to another system is automatic. All changes made to files while using a failover system will automatically mirror back to the original once the problem is resolved.
Availl's software only sends only byte-level changes across the network. This technology eliminates 95 percent or more of the network bandwidth, and is also coupled with protocol optimization, chattiness elimination, encryption and compression.
"I really appreciate the fact that having Availl means having an automatic system for business continuity," Peckham said. "If the network in any one of our four sites goes down, I have three other, completely updated copies of all files on the network accessible to the personnel. Plus, with Availl, I can keep as many past versions and deleted files as I choose. For a business where client access and trust is imperative, that gives me incredible added peace of mind."