A virtual desktop replaces your computer desktop.

A virtual desktop replaces your computer desktop.

Abacus Data Systems, the San Diego company long known for its AbacusLaw practice management system, branched off in a whole new direction today with the launch of Abacus Private Cloud (APC), a secure, hosted, cloud-based environment for law firms to run all their technology and applications.

The idea is to free law firms from the burdens of IT management and the expense of IT installation and maintenance. With APC, law firms need no special hardware or software and no network infrastructure.

Instead, APC literally becomes the lawyer’s desktop. After logging in, the APC virtual desktop replaces your computer’s desktop (although it can be minimized at any time to return to your own desktop). You do all your work in this virtual environment, from creating and editing Microsoft Office documents to managing email to browsing the Web. Abacus takes care of everything, including storing and backing up your data.

This diagram depicts how APC works in a law office.

This diagram depicts how APC works in a law office.

Virtually any software that you can run on your local computer can be run on APC. That includes cloud applications and practice management systems from other vendors. You can use APC without having to use AbacusLaw. If you are a Clio user, for example, you can continue to use Clio through APC.

The virtual desktop interacts with your local hardware. You can print from APC to a local printer and scan from a local scanner directly into APC.

Within APC, each user has access to two drives. A corporate drive is for anything the user wants to make available to others in the firm. A private drive is for documents and files that only the user can view. Both drives are backed up nightly.

APC seems particularly well suited to a firm that is just starting up. Rather than invest in technology, infrastructure and IT consulting, the firm can get everything it needs in a virtual package. APC can be customized to deliver the software and configuration a firm wants.

All the data is stored in state-of-the-art, redundant data centers in San Diego and Houston. All subscriber data is backed up every night. All files are scanned and protected with enterprise-grade virus protection.

Because the system is cloud-based, it can be accessed from any smartphone or tablet. Abacus guarantees that users will always have access to their data — it will never be deleted, destroyed or lost, the company says.

Pricing starts at $165 per month for the first user and $50 per month for each additional user. Integration with Office 365 is available as an option, as is the AbacusLaw practice management platform. Other factors affecting price include space usage and other software installations. The system can be used by firms ranging in size from sole practitioners to 500-plus.

The launch of Private Cloud follows last year’s hiring of Alessandra Lezama as Abacus CEO. Lezama was formerly CEO and COO of American Internet Services, a data center and managed services company in San Diego, and an executive with several telecommunications companies.

Photo of Bob Ambrogi Bob Ambrogi

Bob is a lawyer, veteran legal journalist, and award-winning blogger and podcaster. In 2011, he was named to the inaugural Fastcase 50, honoring “the law’s smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries and leaders.” Earlier in his career, he was editor-in-chief of several legal publications, including The National Law Journal, and editorial director of ALM’s Litigation Services Division.