Friday Feature: Raphael Koellner

Former Employee

We are excited to introduce this week’s Friday Feature— @Raphael Koellner. Raphael is a four-time recipient of the Office Servers and Services MVP award. Raphael works as an interface between IT and law, focusing on cloud computing from a technical and legal point of view. His passion is the community, the cloud computing and traveling around the world. Therefore, he founded the German Office 365 and Windows 10 Community Germany. Read on to find out more about how his worlds of IT and Law combine!



Raphael Koellner

Job Title: IT System Engineer

Company Name: Bechtle

MVP Profile:


Personal Blog:


  1. Tell us a little bit about who you work for, your role in the organization, and if your organization has transitioned to the cloud.


I work for two companies and am also a student, which I love because it gives me access to a lot of knowledge. On one side, I am working as a Microsoft Consultant, as an Office Server and Services MVP and a Windows Insider MVP and on the other side I am a lawyer for IT and IP Law and work as a research assistant. In this situation, I am the interface between the old and the new world. 


In the legal field in Europe, the technological progress doesn’t grow as fast as in the world of IT companies and startups. In a typical law firm, we work with a lot paper (files, mails, fax), the telephone, fax messages and write our legal opinions in modern law firms on mobile PCs like laptops. More and more we see digital files and file systems, which are 98% on-premise and are a mix of different IT systems. In Germany, we have only a few large suppliers for a digital law firm, which work with OnPremise systems and for some digital solutions you need engineers, who comes with a CD-ROM to update the system or the database with addresses of the courts. On the one hand I can understand this, because we have a lot of legal requirements and our lawyers’ association hasn’t a clear position to work with files from mandates in the cloud. So, we need and wish new databases, new systems, mobile applications and a real transition into the new cloud based work. The first step was to a secure electronic mailbox for lawyers, so they could communicate in a secure way with the courts.


On the other hand, I can’t understand why the legal area doesn’t use for example Surfaces with touch and a pen, digital Dictaphones and Cloud based Storages with identity management for collaboration with their mandates. But in the law firms I worked in the last years, I am pioneer, so I see more and more Surface Pro 4 and more digital workplaces. In this topic, I worked with Microsoft to develop the Matter Center as an extension of Office 365 or the same OnPremise Solution for the in-house legal department. 


  1. You overlap in the world of law and the world of IT. Can you elaborate on the intersection of the two? How did you get involved in IT Law?


At first, IT was one of my hobbies, but sometimes I had interesting talks with my mentors and I decided to change my tax law topic to IT Law. I only know a handful of people, who can develop an application and are IT lawyers. Most IT lawyers are people with retraining from other topics like company or architecture law. Currently I work as a research assistant in my second year of law school and as an IT Consultant for the Bechtle GmbH IT-Systemhouse Cologne. In both parts I worked for customers, which are in the process of transformation into the new Cloud and mobile first world.


For the assessment of legal questions, it is helpful to have knowledge of technical processes and technology. In general, in the legal field we work with technical experts, who have technical skills but not legal skills. Lawyers have to assess this and screen it for jurisdictional issues. The problem is the lawyer depends on the quality of the report and the technical expert may not understand the judicial relevant topics. In this result, we have a huge gap. With my knowledge in both topics, I can decide and help customers more effectively.


  1. Security seems to be a major concern for many IT Pros, which seems to be a focus of yours within IT Law. It’s a very complex issue but what is your general approach/perspective on the security of the cloud?

Yes, this is a very complex issue. In the European literature, we have a lot of books and papers about it out of a technical view, but out of a lawyer’s view, we have only a few books and some more papers, which are printed in specialist journals without a great online access. So, you have to buy the journals or make a copy to get the information. Moreover, we have increasing national authorities which publish more and more guidelines, but only, this is understandable, in a general way. They can’t create security rules for every system, but they have a great warning system. For example, in the last week they warn for private clouds, which are often badly maintained and have huge security issues.


In a general approach/perspective, we have a lot of rumors and prejudices against the security of cloud computing. In a general view, this is a typical reaction of new technology and outsourcing. The same issues we had in the age when we switched from horses to cars or generally in a globalized world in which we live today. Mr. Smith the Microsoft lawyer told us last year “trust is the key” and this is one of the decisive factor, of not the deciding factor.


Every day I see OnPremise solutions, but if you have a deeper look the level of security and the encryption level in Cloud based Solutions like Azure or Office 365 is higher than in the on-premise world. With the new cloud based features like Azure Information Protection or Message encryption or Windows Advantaged Treat Protection the companies get tools to secure their systems in an economic way, they can’t do it today.


The law aspects like contracts or processes must be changed hand in hand with IT and for this you need people who know what they are talking about in both worlds.


In my opinion, identity management is the new security. We need a more focused identity management with monitoring, new cloud based tools and new processes. In this relationship, we have to transform the “old” historically different structures into a secure mobile and transformed processes and in this part the way to cloud solutions is only a part to get the control back in our hands. The world of cracking and hacking is too fast for everyone and every it system without a centralized security control.

In this topic, I wish our national authorities would not only create a process of report and create a process of help.


  1. You’re very active on the Microsoft Tech Community. What role do community forums like the Tech Community play in your learning/career? How is this different than the law community?

The new Microsoft Tech Community is an awesome way to learn and get new contacts for my career. In my opinion, my role is the security, lawyer and community guy. In the first moment, I was very skeptical behind the switch from Yammer to the new community, but it works very well, and I am more and more a very active part in this community and in my communities the Windows Insider Community Germany, the Office 365 Community Germany and the Azure Meetup Cologne.


How this community is different than the law community is a very interesting question. I realize, If I think about an answer, I see some differences, but also a lot of commonalities. The commonalities are for example a mixed community with “Fanboys” and people, who are seeking for assistance in their specific topics. The difference is the topic in this case. We have a lot more controversial discussion in the law community and some of us have to explain more the technical part on a maximum of a 200 level. As well in the law community we have longer disputes, which are a result of the topic. In the law topics, we can’t often say, ”if it is like this, the solution is like this.” We have to analyze the case and have discussions about a solution with more developing the law as using or developing an IT Pro solution.


Summarizing my thoughts, I like both communities and both topics and I hope to combine this for the rest of my life.  

1 Reply
Great dual role Raphael!