CHALLENGES: UpCounsel is an upstart business with demanding software development requirements and a strong need for a stable and scalable platform. The capital required to build and administer a data center is prohibitive in the early stages of a startup.
BUSINESS OUTCOME: The scalability and flexibility of the Rackspace cloud allows UpCounsel to maintain a lean IT strategy as it grows. Using the Windows Server OS and Microsoft SQL Server Database Software, UpCounsel needs a hosting partner who understands the .NET developer.
Securing legal services as a business is often a frustrating, expensive process. Based in San Francisco and launched in 2012, startup UpCounsel is a marketplace for legal services where businesses can access a high-quality legal workforce on demand.
UpCounsel’s platform provides a variety of tools, but its primary goal is to help businesses find, hire and pay attorneys and to make client-lawyer relationships easier. UpCounsel also serves attorneys, handling billing and administration and making it easy for them to access and serve clients remotely and collaborate with other attorneys.
As a growing startup disrupting its industry, UpCounsel needed a hosting provider that could provide flexibility and scalability while supporting Microsoft environments and .NET. Mason Blake, CTO and Co-founder of UpCounsel, says, “Our vision to disrupt the legal industry requires us to think big, and in order to do that we need a partner like Rackspace providing the cloud technology we need to help us get there.”
UpCounsel’s business model disrupts the legal vertical in an unprecedented way. Matt Faustman, CEO and Co-founder of UpCounsel, says, “The legal industry is becoming far more fragmented, which makes it even harder to find a great, high-quality attorney. We thought to ourselves, ‘Why can’t we coordinate a massive group of talent, the same way that a law firm does, but at a fraction of the cost?’
“Before starting UpCounsel,” Faustman continues, “I was an attorney working with startups, and my co-founder had been the lead developer at numerous startups. We both saw that it was very difficult for small and midsize businesses to access cost-effective legal services. We realized that this was an area that really had a lot of disruption possibilities.”
Hosting on-premise would have been prohibitively expensive for UpCounsel. Rackspace cloud gave them a scalable environment with minimal upfront capital expenditure, allowing them to focus on disrupting the legal field rather than getting bogged down in infrastructural concerns.
UpCounsel required a cloud hosting provider that could successfully scale with them. Having worked with Rackspace in the past, Blake knew the company as a trusted cloud provider.
“Hosting services are incredibly important, and we chose Rackspace from the beginning,” explains Blake. “It’s a critical component to any online business, especially when you talk about dealing with businesses and legal services, and a place where money is transacted. We need to make sure that our site is available 24/7. I knew when we started building out the infrastructure and the backend that I was going to go with Rackspace. There was no doubt in my mind. I have never had an issue with Rackspace in the nearly ten years that I’ve worked with them.”
Rackspace cloud gave UpCounsel the flexibility they needed to build a scalable, transactional website infrastructure. “Rackspace cloud provides an incredible amount of flexibility for us. With the open API, spinning up servers at the click of a button, cloud storage, load balancing and provisioning up and down, it’s about as simple as it can get,” says Blake. “Allowing us to grow to scale in an automated fashion is critical for us. We wanted to make sure that our growth was not inhibited by the infrastructure of the platform.”
The ability to build on a Windows environment was a major factor in Blake’s decision to go with Rackspace. When you run Windows Server on the Rackspace cloud, your applications run just like they do in a dedicated environment. You can migrate your complex configurations or choose from one of the Rackspace standard Windows environments, and deploy servers within minutes, as needed.
Rackspace also offered the deep understanding of .NET that Blake sought. “I have been working with .NET since it was in beta” says Blake. “My greatest strengths lie in building and scaling applications on the .NET platform. Windows is a critical component as well, and being able to have Windows options available on our host was required.”
UpCounsel’s use of Microsoft’s operating system, implementing the latest Windows Server and SQL Server Database Software at Rackspace is a prime example of how this group of companies focuses on the evolving needs of the growing developer base. “I feel as though Rackspace is an important part of UpCounsel’s growth,” says Blake. “We are growing incredibly fast, and it’s not going to slow down. Rackspace allows us to not worry about the infrastructure and not worry about how we are going to scale. Scaling with Windows has never been a problem. I know that Windows is fully capable. I know exactly how we are going to scale, and I know that Rackspace will be a part of that.”
UpCounsel’s customer-focused approach is much like the Fanatical Support® that Rackspace has provided Blake over the years. “Rackspace blows me away every time,” says Blake. “I think they have done an incredible job at focusing on the customer. UpCounsel is similar, in that we care a lot about our customers, and their success is our success. I often think that Rackspace cares about my business almost as much as I do, which is incredible.”
“I would absolutely recommend Rackspace to others,” Blake says. “They have always impressed me with their Fanatical Support and responsiveness to our needs. Nobody cares about my business as much as I do, but, if there was anybody else that did—I think it’s somebody like Rackspace that has a vested interest in my success. Because when I’m successful, that helps Rackspace as well.”
Watch the UpCounsel Architecture & Infrastructure Video featuring Mason Blake, co-founder and CTO of UpCounsel.
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