This is a backend (the part of the software that changes are made to, and most users do not even realize) improvement; designed to make the product more stable and provide consistency when it comes to new features and interactions with other products.
A (Very Little) Bit of History
For many years LexisNexis’s PCLaw has used a C-Tree database engine as its backend. (What you need to know about C-Tree databases: 1) they are more obscure than the industry-leading SQL (Structured Query Language – the method by which a database interacts with the data) database, and 2) they sometimes suffered from data integrity issues. Also, a C-Tree database and the application it was used with were often bundled together, so that the integration meant that the application (in this case, PCLaw) was not required to be programmed to provide basic functionality to store and retrieve all of the many database fields the program needs.
However, as Microsoft SQL became the much more widely-accepted (almost standard) database engine of choice (and many more developers and support personnel were trained on its various traits), the enhanced stability and universal familiarity became too much to ignore, and LexisNexis re-wrote the application to use Microsoft SQL.
What Does This Mean?
Firms who upgrade from PCLaw (the C-Tree version) should expect fewer calls to technical support (fewer data integrity issues), and a more stable and universally accepted product which is upgraded regularly to include new features on a consistent basis.
What do I need to know about Microsoft SQL? Basically, MS SQL comes in two versions: a Free version (SQL Server Express) which allows the application to store up to 10GB of data (which for a PCLaw database is very large), and a Paid version, which offers more data storage and comes in several flavors (Standard, Enterprise, etc…) There are additional difference between the free and paid versions: 1) the number of processors that the database will use to process the data, and the amount of RAM available to the database engine (the free version only uses up to 1GB; other versions can use as much RAM as you can give them.)
For most firms, the Free version should suffice. If you have any doubts as to what version you would need to upgrade to PCLaw SQL, contact your consultant at C&S LegalTech. There are now cloud options where you can have access to a more robust version of SQL Server, without having to purchase the product (and additional hardware and/or SQL licensing.) Be sure to have the entire discussion with your consultants in order to make the best decision.
PCLaw on Microsoft SQL Server offers a more robust and improved software experience. Check with C&S Legaltech to explore what, if any, enhancements to your environment might be necessary to take advantage of this new version.
Proceed With Caution
If you are not on a SQL database version of PCLaw already, do not do this upgrade without talking to your Certified Consultant, your IT Company, your backup provider, and if you are running in a hosted environment, your hosting company. These parties need to coordinate the upgrade. Also many free, inexpensive or onsite backup programs do not backup SQL databases. Make sure to look into this. Require the backup provider to give you a definitive YES it can back up a SQL database. SQL Server will have to be installed properly so you can manage the database. Those of you with Time Matters will already have a SQL database installation, and PCLaw can be installed on the same SQL installation.
Be sure to verify system requirements are met as well.
As always, we will recommend not being the first to upgrade. Let’s see what problems are reported in the field and then decide when it’s time.