The legal side of tech is no mystery to Duncan James of UK law firm Clarion
Clarion Solicitors is a law firm which specialises in technology, and Duncan James has been there for the last seven years, working on legal IT and virtualisation. He is also into virtual music.
What has been your favourite project?
I like the latest technology as the ever-changing marketplace is what keeps me passionate about IT. Most recently, I have been getting to grips with the beta version of VMware Horizon Data (formerly VMware Project Octopus). This is an on-premise solution for securely sharing and collaborating with digital files internally and externally with our clients.
What tech were you involved with ten years ago?
My virtualisation journey began just over ten years ago, when I used virtual musical instruments to help me complete my Music Technology degree.
The focus there was on sound synthesis, as well as the emulation and consolidation of musical instruments with small sound module boxes. Spinning this on its head, I now use very similar concepts with the virtualisation of computer services.
Data protection confusion holds back the cloud
What tech do you expect to be using in ten years’ time?
The success of the next generation of Internet services will depend on the clarity of data regulation laws. At the moment, there is confusion regarding the Data Protection Act and US Patriot Act that is holding back a lot of businesses from using many beneficial cloud services. Eventually we will get to the stage where we think less about the technology we use and more about the services we want to receive. Ultimately these services will be automating our lives whether we like it or not. I also think we’re likely to see an information overload, with people continually struggling to balance their personal and work lives.
Who’s your tech villain?
On the flip side, the UK Government is not doing enough to encourage the next generation of young adults to become innovative with technology. For example, even seventeen year old Nick D’Aloisio’s highly popular ‘Summly’ App was only possible due to private investment.
What’s your favourite technology ever made? Which do you use the most?
The iPhone has been a real game changer in a personal and business context due to its innovative, simplistic design. The competition it has generated in the mobile market has been great for consumers, who are really starting to benefit from the most advanced technology, just in their phone!
The iPhone has become my remote control for connecting to the world and is easily the most frequently used bit of technology I own.
What is the budget outlook going forward?
The IT Industry is starting to move towards a rental /lease model as technology, and more specifically software, moves at a faster pace than most businesses can keep up with.
What’s great to see is that IT budgets are steadily growing as businesses begin to reap the real benefits of using the latest technologies. Traditional IT product life cycle refreshes for businesses are now becoming less formally structured as the adoption of BYOD continues to be popular.
Apart from your own company, who do you admire most? Why?
I think the ethical philosophies of the Fairtrade Foundation are commendable, especially its dedication to tackling poverty and injustice through trade.
What’s the greatest challenge for an IT department?
There is more emphasis than ever on doing more with less while keeping up with the demands of the business and the fast-paced consumerisation chatter of IT products and services.
There is always going to be resistance to change: the transition from old IT products and services to new is always going to be difficult to implement and will cause challenges for all interested parties.
To Cloud or not to Cloud?
As consumers, we’re all using cloud services already one way or another; it’s just that a lot of people don’t know it – so yes, definitely to Cloud.
Hybrid clouds are gradually becoming the medium for many businesses. Our company already uses various cloud services, Software as a Service (SaaS) being the most common form.
We recently won VMware’s Thinking Big competition and will use the money to improve the way we securely share our large data files with VMware’s Horizon Suite.
All of our lawyers and staff will have a single integrated way of accessing and managing their apps and desktops, as well as the secure sharing of data, wherever and whenever they happen to be working. That’s also a great benefit of cloud computing.
We’re also continuing to monitor and evaluate Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS).
What did you want to be when you were a child?
I don’t think there was ever a profession I leaned towards, however I’ve always had a very creative background in music and performing arts and this has helped me place innovative perspectives to problems throughout my IT career.
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