Client Case Study
On January 9th 2014 The Law Office of Homan & Stone partnered with eTop Technology, Inc. to help bring their technology under control. Since the beginning of the partnership, Homan & Stone has made tremendous progress towards stabilizing their network by adding many points of security, virtualization and management.
About Homan & Stone
Homan & Stone is a client-focused law firm based in Redlands, CA. As one of California’s preeminent defense and trial firms, they successfully resolve civil disputes through early dismissal, settlement, or trial. For nearly 20 years they have prided themselves on providing exceptional legal services in the civil litigation arena. They specialize in trial practices and the defense of general tort litigation, including, but not limited to, personal injury, premises liability, product liability, business litigation, entertainment, workers compensation, and construction defect. They litigate cases throughout the state in both state and federal courts and their attorneys have a proven history of success for their clients.
“eTop has provided first rate technical support, advice and customer service as our business has grown. Having exceptional technical support is a business necessity and an advantage, which has allowed Homan & Stone to increase its client base and take care of its existing clients over the long run. I highly recommend eTop to anyone who is in need of good tech support at a fair price.”
Gene Stone, Managing Partner, Law Offices of Homan & Stone Redlands, CA.
Homan & Stone chose to partner with eTop Technology after previously working with other IT service providers ranging from break fix support vendors to large managed service providers. Unfortunately, these service providers charged an exuberant price for 24/7 support, and additional specialized support services had to be called in for important applications, disaster recovery, and data backup. When asked what their experience searching for good IT support was like, one partner replied, “We had a very difficult time finding a company that could tailor their programs to our needs.” Because of their many negative experiences with other IT companies, the partners at Homan & Stone wanted to be sure that they could rely on their next IT partner – not only for keeping their data safe and their network running smoothly, but also for regular availability, good communication and quick response times.
The partners originally joined forces in 1996 to form the Law Office of Homan & Stone. In one conversation the partners recalled using typewriters and paper document storage when they first opened their practice. The world of technology has changed continuously since 1996, and to maintain a competitive advantage the partners have had to adapt their practice to accommodate emerging technology. The partners chose eTop Technology as a consultant, as they required a service provider that could help them to navigate the ever- changing world of technology. When asked what had changed since the partners started working with eTop Technology, one partner replied, “We found a true business partner who was willing to adapt and grow with us as our needs changed.”
At the beginning of the business relationship, Homan & Stone had a staff of thirty employees working on a single 2003 Small Business Server, and had thirty workstations with additional laptops and mobile devices. Much of the hardware (including the server and nearly a third of their computers) needed to be updated. Because of the status and age of the hardware, employees were noticing many problems with network speed and day-to-day operations within the office. For example, the company’s email was hosted on Microsoft Exchange using an in-house server, and they were having tremendous spam issues as a result.
Beyond the issues that the staff were noticing, Homan & Stone’s network and data security was also at risk for several reasons. Because their network was not set up on a domain, everyone on the network was using the same username and password – which allowed each employee to have administrator access to the network. Aside from the security concerns, the lack of centralized management in the network frequently caused frustrations for management and staff. Data security was another very real concern for Homan & Stone – their previous IT provider had informed them that their data was backed up and secure, but their methods caused the company to lose a large portion of the data.
Once eTop Technology was brought on, the first order of business was to stabilize the network by bringing the hardware and software up to date. Namely, this meant centralizing the network by replacing their physical server and updating the operating system to Windows Server 2012. In order to add centralized management to the network, it was essential to bring Homan & Stone onto a domain. This move allowed for everyone in the company to have an individual login and password, thereby increasing security. While replacing the server, it was also necessary to address many of the other hardware concerns by replacing the oldest third of their workstations. To address the cost concerns of this project, Homan & Stone was able to set up a lease with Dell so that they could make monthly payments rather than absorbing the entire cost all at once.
Because of the company’s unfortunate history with data loss, eTop Technology prioritized a data management plan by simultaneously implementing a data backup plan and installing a local backup system that soon payed itself back in dividends. Over the course of the partnership, Homan and Stone was infected with cryptolocker twice in one month. Thanks to the data backup strategy that had been put in place, it was possible to successfully restore the network without compromising any data. To help reduce the threat of cryptolocker, cryptoprevent was implemented and any incoming emails with .exe attachments were blocked.
To address the massive amounts of spam that was flooding the inboxes of everyone at Homan & Stone, Microsoft Exchange was migrated onto Microsoft Office 365 and Microsoft SBS Exchange was decommissioned. This migration significantly reduced the company’s spam issues and also increased employee productivity, as hosting the e-mail on a more reliable and robust platform gave employees access to all of the Microsoft Office suite of products from any device.
Once the network was stabilized and running smoothly, the goal was to maintain its functionality. From the beginning, Homan & Stone has been a valued managed service client. Not only have they been able to bring their network up to date through various projects, eTop Technology has also continued to provide an ongoing support role as their outsourced IT department. Through a managed service plan, eTop Technology can actively monitor their network 24/7 and keep tabs on the health of their hardware and software. This allows for foresight into issues, so they can be resolved before they cause unplanned downtime. Since Homan & Stone is a managed service client, they receive preventative support through the optimization of the network on a weekly basis. This includes keeping antivirus software and patching up to date, removing malware and viruses, checking event logs and disk usage, and managing storage space. As part of the managed service program, any maintenance that is needed to help keep the network running efficiently is performed immediately to reduce the risk of unplanned downtime.
When it comes to providing support, the technicians at eTop Technology work alongside staff members to access the network remotely. If issues cannot be resolved remotely, a technician is dispatched to their location. As a managed service client, Homan & Stone receives an all-inclusive support package. This package allows them to be able to budget their IT services on a month to month basis with predictability, despite fluctuations in IT network issues. In order to help provide foresight into the network needs, active consulting with the partners and management occurs on a regular basis to help them make informed decisions about hardware lifecycles, security, and all of the ongoing changes in the industry. When asked how this service plan makes his life easier one partner said, “The day to day consistency of our computer system and predictability of performance with our server and computers even though we’ve increased our demands and needs. Good technical support happens when a company provides user-friendly and quality response to its consumers. The technical support team should consist of individuals who are experts in the products and can support and answer all the customer’s concerns accordingly. This is what we are getting from eTop. Successful law firms MUST have a great partner in technical support in order to succeed and be competitive. IT support needs are not a static thing. As a business grows, the level of support that one needs from vendors changes as the business matures. eTop has been able to do this over the past 3 years.”
There have been many other projects during the course of our partnership with Homan & Stone that have helped to increase productivity and maximize security. One impediment to productivity was a lack of Internet bandwidth. By working with Verizon, eTop Technology was able to bring Homan & Stone onto fiber internet, taking them from an 8×1 megabit circuit through Time Warner to a 150×150 megabit circuit through Verizon Fios while keeping their costs approximately the same. It was also discovered that, unbeknownst to the management, pirated copies of Microsoft Office and WordPerfect had been installed on a large portion of their workstations. By working with Microsoft and Homan & Stone, all of their software licenses are now up to date and compliant.
The partners at Homan & Stone wanted reliability and security from their IT network. They needed an IT partner organization that was responsive and that could provide proactive support to reduce the amount of network downtime, while also keeping IT expenses within a predictable budget. When asked how the partnership has affected their business the partners replied, “Increasingly for reasons of necessity and opportunity, every industry now finds itself in the technology business – and the legal field is no exception. Our clients demand more from us, and eTop has allowed us to continue to provide first-rate legal services with little down time. Having reliable tech support has also allowed us to focus on the things that are necessary to grow the business. Down time means that we are losing money because the attorneys cannot be productive.”
After having completed numerous projects and implementing a service plan to insure that the network is well taken care of, eTop Technology is confident in saying that Homan & Stone’s network will continue to operate with efficiency for many years to come.
is the Founding and Managing Partner of HOMAN & STONE. Ron received his B.A. degree from University of California, Berkeley and his J.D. degree from Santa Barbara College of Law. He was admitted to the State bar of California in 1991. He is a member of the U. S. District Court for the Southern, Eastern and Northern Districts and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth District. His professional memberships also include the Defense Research Institute Europe, California Employment Lawyers Association, the American Bar Association, the Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel, the American Trial Lawyers Association, and the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. He has been a guest lecturer to Fortune 500 companies for more than 20 years.
Prior to entering the practice of law in 1991, he had a varied background, both professionally and as a Shore Patrol in the U.S. Coast Guard. Ron has been a restaurant waiter/manager, law school librarian/assistant, construction trades person, airline baggage handler and a member of several civic groups.
Ron’s diverse background has served him well in litigating a broad range of matters, including business/commercial litigation, employment and labor matters, fire litigation, construction law, wrongful death, restaurant/hotel litigation, products liability, premises liability, trucking and insurance law, including special investigation unit litigation. Ron has tried many complex and unusual cases to verdict. He has also concluded hundreds of arbitrations, both binding and nonbinding.
is a Partner with the law firm of Homan & Stone. His practice focuses on general liability and casualty defense in the areas of products liability, premises liability, fire litigation, professional malpractice, automobile, wrongful death, and employment law. He has tried dozens of cases involving auto, general liability issues, wrongful death and product liability. He has also successfully tried cases involving construction site accidents, product liability, automobile accidents, employment disputes, and general personal injury litigation.
Homan & Stone
P: 1 (213) 223-2337
12 North Fifth Street
Redlands, CA 92373