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Net upgrade cuts Brodies' e-mail burden

Arif Mohamed

Brodies, one of Scotland's largest law firms, has completed a major IT project to bolster its network infrastructure and document management system to cope with a rise in e-mail traffic and document sizes.

A merger with Bishops Solicitors last August increased Brodies' headcount from 275 to 500 and multiplied the number of e-mails the firm sent, as well as the number of documents held in its database.

Andrew Powell, Brodies' IT director, said the firm sends about 200,000 e-mails a month, with many of them holding PDF attachments of up to 40Mbytes.

In anticipation of the increase in large documents, Brodies strengthened its SQL Server 2005 database with 16Gbytes of clustered Ram to deal with the three million documents it holds.

It has also upgraded its Cisco switch and IP network, introducing fault-tolerant Fibre Channel network attached storage. Brodies has also taken the opportunity to install virtual private network (VPN) technology to link remote laptops to its Inter­woven document management system, which the firm has been using since May 2003.

The use of a VPN means that clients and partners are able to access documents from the web, using RSA SecurID two-factor authentication tokens, which generate one-time passwords. This has reduced the need for lawyers to transfer documents via e-mail, which can be in­secure and bandwidth-hungry.

"Sending sensitive information by e-mail is not the best thing," said Powell. "E-mail is very efficient from a time point of view, but not always from an IT security point of view."

E-mail management guide for SMBs >>

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