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Ultimate Security with Abacus Private Cloud


In this special presentation, our Abacus expert will remove the mystique surrounding how private clouds work, and demonstrate how Abacus Private Cloud (APC) provides bullet-proof security layers that safeguard data from hackers and ransomware.

About Free Training Friday: Since the beginning of 2017, we have been holding these free, 30-minute training hosted by our industry-leading experts and innovators who will teach you about AbacusLaw, Amicus Attorney and the Abacus Private Cloud. Since then, we have expanded to also provide free Results CRM and OfficeTools Software trainings. If you would like to request a topic, please email

Video Transcription

Good morning, good afternoon everyone, wherever you're joining us from. If you could just please confirm that you can not only hear me but you can also see our shared screen, go ahead and raise your hand or just go ahead and tell us on the chat panel. Let's see we've got how many hands raised? One, two three, four, five, Bill, Martin, Miranda, Tabatha, Annie. Okay, thanks for joining us everyone.

Again, good morning. Thanks for joining us. My name is Andrew Perez. I'm online content manager here at AbacusNext. I want to thank you all for joining us for Ultimate Security with Abacus Private Cloud. Today we're going to see how APC prides bullet proof security layers that help safeguard your critical data.

Before we get started, just a couple of quick housekeeping notes. Please feel free to submit your questions throughout the presentation using the chat panel. We'll try to answer your questions in the order that they are received at the end of the presentation. We'll go ahead and run for about 15 or 20 minutes, with another 10 minutes of Q and A tacked on to the end. Without further ado, I'd like to introduce our speaker today, Ali Mirdamadi. Ali is a cloud computing expert here at AbacusNext and will be our guide through the Abacus Private Cloud. Without further ado, I'll hand it over to you Ali.

My name is Ali Mirdamadi. I'm a senior business develop manager here with Abacus and today I'm going to walk you through the Abacus Private Cloud and kind of the history of the private cloud and how we got here. Going to the first slide, Abacus has been around since 1983, we initially started as a legal software system. Over the course of the year, we accumulated over 250,000 clients. Right around 2013, our current CEO Alessandra Lezama joined us and kind of helped us get outside of the realm of just providing software solutions in the legal industry. Her background was the CEO of a major data center here in southern California. When she joined Abacus, she brought a team of engineers along with her.

Essentially, what happened after that is we started building up the Abacus Private Cloud. We introduced the Abacus Private Cloud initially to the legal industry and the Abacus client base. Just to give you an idea, Abacus is based in San Diego, California. We have offices in Palmdale, Virginia and Toronto. These are the results of a couple acquisitions that happened in the last year and a half with our first acquisition having been Amicus Attorney, which was one of our biggest competitors. Followed by some additional acquisitions of Results CRM, OfficeTools, and Cloudnine Realtime to help us get into the financial services sector.

What we have right now is several data centers spread across the US, including data centers in Canada and the UK for our clients in the UK and Europe. We have over 370 employees and, combined with all of the acquisitions, we have over 500,000 clients that we work with. As far as the partnerships that we have, there's hundreds of them. Big ones being Microsoft, QuickBooks, Infusionsoft Intel, and etc. The logos that you can see on the screen right now.

What we've been doing is starting a private club appointment working with heavily regulated industries and people that have specific needs around security. That slowly trickled into other industries and other small businesses as well.

Moving on to the next slide. I only have half an hour to show you everything so I'm going to keep it quick and hopefully get to the Q and A at the end so I can answer your questions. Who is a good fit for Abacus Private Cloud? People confuse Abacus Private Cloud with being a cloud based solution for some of our applications. This is incorrect. The Abacus Private Cloud is a fully managed desktop as a service secured by software service solution where we're able to host not just our Abacus line of applications but other applications, even if they weren't designed for the cloud. Let's say QuickBooks, Adobe Professional, maybe some of you guys are using programs like Essential Forms, Best Case Bankruptcy Software. Any program, really, that can run on a Windows environment, we can move it into the cloud environment for you.

The ideal candidates for the private cloud are people that need access to all of their data and applications, firms that have multiple geographical locations and offices. What we're doing is we're eliminating the need for you to have multiple servers or one really strong server that everyone is remotely connecting to. We're helping you connect to a managed data center where we build the servers for you. We'll get into that in a second.

If you are replacing your aging servers and your servers are coming due for a refresh, it doesn't make really much sense to buy hardware. I call moving to the private cloud a transition like going from VHS to Netflix. It's a similar concept. Instead of you having hardware and finding ways to connect the VHS cassette player to your media center and having someone come help out with it when something breaks, having to go to Best Buy and get it fixed, we're eliminating all that. Really, it is like a Netflix-like environment where you're using credentials to connect to this environment. Regardless of the type of device you're using, regardless of your geographical location, you're able to access all of your programs, all of your applications, and all of your files from everywhere. If your servers are dated, today it doesn't make much sense to go back and buy hardware like you traditionally used to. There are some exceptions to the rule and those are things that we can consult on, but we foresee everyone moving into a private cloud or host an environment of some sort in the next three to five years.

Another benefit of moving to a private cloud based solution is lowering your IT costs. Because everything is managed in the data center, really all you need is devices that you connect to the internet. That way, you have access to all of your data. If you spilled coffee on your laptop or your computer fried due to a power surge, really all you need to do is find the next device, put in your credentials, and again you have access to your entire environment.

Another couple of important cases were where people are prime candidates for moving to the private cloud environment is if you need security around your data. You have a team of experts that are working in their own areas of specialty around cyber security, around server and IT infrastructure and architecture and in support versus having maybe a local IT person that can't in today's world and as quickly as technology is moving have so much bandwidth to understand all the complexities that play into IT. You're getting an entire team. A team of 300-400 people versus maybe 5, 10, 20 people that, in the last decade or so, have done a phenomenal job of managing your IT solutions. And the potential on cyber security issue that exist today has become critical.

The last item that's on here, the ability to customize an IT solution. When would you customize an IT solution? It's if you have HIPPA compliance requirements, if you have requirements based on your industry and it requires us to custom build a server for you and have specific solutions around it. Those are all things that we can do through the private cloud solution.

Moving on to the next slide. What is the Abacus Private Cloud? Essentially, it's that concept of moving from VHS to Netflix. What we're doing is we're building individuals to reverse for our clients in a data center with core locations. If you're in the US, the core locations are in the US. If you're in Canada, they'll be in Canada and if you're Europe right now, everything's in the UK.

What we do is we build a custom server for a client and then we have the core location set up for backup. Physical, geographically different backup. Essentially, what happens, it's a private cloud in the essence that each server is built for the organizations that we're working with. Those resources don't get shared with any other organization. In some cases, when you're using a public fund utility or you're using shared resources, what happens is if a business is consuming a lot of data and is transmitting a lot of files back and forth and attacking the server, that can affect your performance even though you're not directly responsible for that performance.

So what we're doing is we're segmenting that data. We're creating individual servers for each one of the clients that we work with. Then, we're responsible for the firewall and intrusion protection. We handle the different servers that'll feed into the virtual desktop that we'll see here momentarily. We basically secure this entire environment and we back it up to make sure that you have access to this 24 by 7 with the 99.999% of time guarantee.

On the front end, this means that you can access to this environment from any device, any time as long as you have internet connection. Internet connection, as far as the speed requirements go, is one megabit per second per user up and down. If you have an organization that has 10 users, then you want a 10 megabit up and down concurrent connection so that you have the best experience possible. It doesn't really require a fiber connection, but it needs something that's steady and it's usually the upload speed that you want to check with your internet service provider.

So that's, in essence, a quick overview of the Abacus Private Cloud and how it's protected. Again, the device that you're using, it could be an Apple, it could be a PC, it could be an Android device. All you really need is just something that can connect to the internet. In a bit, I'll show you exactly how that process is done and how we connect to this environment on our end here.

One of the things that was prompting a lot of people to move to Abacus Private Cloud is the fret of Ransomware. You have to realize that hackers are entrepreneurs and business people as well. They're looking for the lowest hanging fruit in the industry. Unfortunately, small businesses are data rich and they're the most hanging fruit from a technological standpoint because they don't update their software, they don't have complicated or complex IT infrastructure to get off of that low hanging fruit list. That's what happens. They're essentially looking for the easiest people that they can target and they can get stuff off of.

Ransomware, which is probably one of the most popular things that a lot of people have been infected by. What happens is that it accesses your device through usually social engineering. It's usually someone clicking on PDF that they shouldn't have, but it looks like it came from someone that they know. It infects up to to 200 files per second. Even if you unplugged everything, by the time you realize something is happening, it's already probably been effected. It only takes 30-90 seconds for that infection to spread to the next computer.

The challenge with Ransomware, and even the FBI had suggested this, is that your best bet is to pay them to get your data back. Even when you get your data back, a lot of times that data has been corrupted through that encryption process and some of that data could be missing. Because this information is so vital to your business, you want to make sure that you have the right backup and in place.

The other challenge that goes with Ransomware, especially in the world of cyber security, is that even if you have a good IT plan in place, recovering from something like ransomware can take multiple business days. You, from a business continuity standpoint, you're going to have a hard down time because your IT person needs to go in and wipe the server clean, wipe the desktops clean, reload the operating system, reload all the applications, and then reload the backup onto this environment. This can take a lot of time, regardless of how phenomenal your IT person is.

For us to manage your data and manage your environment in a secure and professionally managed data center with a team of people allows us to recover from instances like this within 20-30 minutes which is 2-3 business days. That's one thing that's prompted a lot of people to move over to our Abacus Private Cloud solution, has been the threat of Ransomware.

Some of the other components that go along with Abacus Private Cloud, particular on security, is that as data transmits … And you're looking at this diagram here. As data transmits from your desktop, your mobile device, into the private cloud because … To take a step back, essentially what happens, and we'll see this in the demonstration, is that your device becomes a terminal that is connecting to a data center and a computer that's computing and processing all the data. All you're seeing on your device is just images. None of the data and none of the applications are being stored locally on your device.

What happens is in transit when you're using and you're utilizing the Abacus Private Cloud, it's responsible for protecting your email, checking for viruses and malware, making sure that the applications are running properly. Of course, there's another layer which is conditional access.

What is conditional access mean? It means that … Let's you're an organization that has a primary location, let's say Kansas City for example, and you have people that are disbursed geographically all over the country. What you can do is create limitations based on the time and date that they have access to their data or their desktop environment. You can give them limitations on their access based by their user group or by their role, what they can copy, what they can paste on and off into the private cloud. In some cases, let's say that the data's really sensitive, let's say you don't want anyone to be able to access this environment from outside of the office at all. We don't want them to be able to plug in their credentials and get access to the environment and to be able to manipulate it and make any changes to your data, you can create restrictions so that they can't see anything outside of the office.

What does Abacus Private Cloud replace? There's a few things that, right off the bat, we're gonna be able to handle and take care of. So your local and dedicated servers, all of those go away for the most part. We also have the opportunity to request or exchange email exchange servers if you're hosting those locally as well. What we're doing is we're eliminating the future capital expenditure. Instead of you paying for hardware every three to five years, basically all you need is devices that can connect to the internet. Because the computing happens in the data center level, you don't have to have the most expensive or highest end computers. You just need something that's sufficient enough to connect you to the private cloud environment.

Again, you would be moving to an operating cost that has a pay as you go model. As you go, we add resources, we add additional memory, we add additional software applications as you need them and you don't have to predict the next three to five years of your resource usage. Traditionally what would happen with the server is you'd buy the server, but you're trying to predict what you're going to need for the next three to five years which can be costly. Those resources in some cases may have not been used to work full capacity.

Another component is the weak IT security, especially around backups. It's one thing to have a good Ransomware and a good antivirus protection, but then it's an entirely different thing to have the proper backup and then making sure that that backup doesn't get infected by potential ransomware or malware and then how do you recover from that backup into your local environment again.

Your local IT costs, we still need these on the ground and we still use the assistance of IT people on a local level. They still need to help with making sure your physical devices can connect to the internet, that your printers and scanners are properly working, that you can scan directly into the private cloud for example or that you can print from the private cloud to your local printer. A lot of those local IT costs as far as someone coming in and checking in on the status of the server or having to pay them for backups or … Really, to an extent, your devices become disposable because it almost makes sense to replace the $200 computer instead of having an IT person or going to Best Buy or Geek Squad and spending five, six hundred bucks for them to recover your data and rebuild your computer for you.

The big one is that your involvement with IT related issues goes away. Everything is at that data center location. You have one phone number that you would contact and, in this case, Abacus would be responsible for handling all those issues. You don't have to worry with the actual physical equipment being in your office, occupying some real estate in the office, and you being responsible for the cooling of the environment and the power to run that server consistently. Also, one note that I'd like to add in here is that you can get a discount typically through your liability insurance provider by moving your data into a secured data center facility.

So, what I'm going to do is a quick live demo of Abacus Private Cloud. I'll show you exactly how we're going to connect to that environment and what it looks like. From there, we're going to do a quick Q and A session with the time that we have available.

To connect to the private cloud environment, any windows PC comes pre-installed with remote desktop connection. For Apple devices and Android devices … For Apple devices, you can download this from iTunes for free, this utility that we're going to use. For Android devices, you can download from the Google play store for free. Essentially, what you're doing is you're putting in … Each user puts in their own credentials and they're creating a secure connection between this device and the data center where your applications and programs and files are going to be hosted.

The previous desktop that we were looking at here, which is my desktop here in our offices in San Diego, the desktop that I just loaded here is the private cloud desktop that I have located in our data center in Las Vegas. Of course, it has the backups and the core locations in other places.

Again, any programs and applications that you have, even if they weren't designed for a private cloud environment, or a cloud environment I should say, we can move them into this environment. For example, if it's Microsoft Office, the Outlook, we're using the cloud to connect to this but it is the traditional version of Office, the traditional version of Outlook, not one that you access through a web browser, although those are available as well. What we'll do is we make sure that you have the right resources, that you have the right software applications installed for you on this environment. Then again, you're accessing this from anywhere. As long as you're within this environment and you're connecting to this environment, you're safe, you're secure, all of your data is backed up, and really there's no worries about operating within the system.

As far as the file and the directory structure goes, we have a team of project managers that can help you transition from a local environment into the private cloud environment. What we can do is recreate your directory structures and the folders the same way that you have them on your local server today. In some cases, people are moving from a public cloud utility, like let's say Dropbox or One Drive, into the private cloud and that's something we can help as well. We can create restrictions as far as the accounting folder, for example, maybe everyone in the office doesn't need access to this so it's just one call, one email away to get restrictions as far as who has access to this folder and how.

Moving data back and forth between the private cloud and your local desktop is pretty easy. It's as easy as right clicking, hitting copy, minimizing this screen, coming over here and then hitting the paste. Now I have a copy of this file within my local computer and I can move files back and forth between my local desktop and my private cloud. Again, the idea is that you're using this environment as long as you're conducting business. Of course, you have access to your internet browser and all your other applications too. The idea is that as long as you're working within this environment, you're safe and you're secure.

Some of the other things that we've done and we've done for current clients, or we do for current clients, is setting up their scanners to work directly with the private cloud. What we can do is have your local scanner scan directly into a folder in the private cloud environment. What's worth mentioning is that the operating system and all applications relied on solid, safe hard drives which makes it an incredibly fast experience. A lot of times people will use an older computer and they'll realize that this environment works faster than the actual computer does. Again, all you're seeing is the screens or images that are being displayed from that link and computer or that data center … that server on the data center. Your local device really isn't being passed with any resources or anything that it's not capable of outputting in a quick manner. Everything is done at the data level and it's monitored by a team to make sure that you have sufficient memory and sufficient number of processors and sufficient amount of archived space for storage.

That's the high level overview of Abacus Private Cloud.

Q & A

What are size limitations on email and Outlook?

As far as storage goes, we'll have to look at the default of what Outlook and Exchange offer as far as file sizes.It used to be 50 gigabytes in email inboxes. I believe they've moved that to unlimited. Size limitations, I don't know what the actual size is per size of emails being transmitted.

What happens by the off chance that we no longer want to use Abacus Private Cloud. Do we get all of our data back?

You have full ownership of your data. The fact is that we are using a private cloud makes it a lot easier for us to give you full ownership of this data. What happens with public data is, let's say, is that your data may reside in any one of their data centers all over the world. It floats outside of US often. Then it's subject to that data center and what their rules and regulations are. But because we know exactly where your data is at any given time, it not only makes it easier to secure, but you have full ownership of it.

In the case that you want to retrieve all your data, depending on the size of the data, it's easiest opening up the file or the folder that all of your data exists in, right clicking, hitting copy, moving it to your local desktop and hitting paste. If it's gigabytes or terabytes of data, then what we'll do is we'll send you an encrypted hard drive with all of your data. You have full ownership of data.

Do we charge by device or by the amount of data?

What we charge by is the number of current users connecting into the environment. We calculate how much storage space you need. Keep in mind that when we're calculating storage, although we might see a terabyte, that number is actually multiplied because that data gets backed up in the other core locations as well.

Basically, the number of users, the amount of storage space, and then if there's any complexities or specific requirements for the server to have as far as architecture and hardware built. By that I mean are you using an application that requires much resources, do you have something that requires a specific amount of memory, or CPU? Those are what we take into consideration. What we do before we bringing you on board, and before we even give you a quote, is we do a technical assessment with one of our engineers. They'll identify all of these potential requirements for you before we move into Abacus Private Cloud.

Can I still back up a mirror image of everything on Abacus Private Cloud servers to a hard drive in my office?

Yes, but we're working for organizations that have 400 plus users and they're relying solely on that to come through on backing up the data properly and making sure that they have the right systems in place. So, you could. There are ways that we can establish this backup with you as far as ensuring that you have a replicated copy on your hard drive. But a lot of times you'll see that the contingency plans that we have in place, and especially if all this fit through our service level agreement, you'll see that we cover a lot of that. It kind of becomes redundant, but I know sometimes people really, really want to have a copy on their local desktop or local environment and that's completely fine.

Is this cost effective for a one person firm?

There are quite a few solo practitioners or solo businesses that are using Abacus Private Cloud and it's because they don't want to deal with IT at all. In their mind, they're saying, "You know what. I don't want to deal with this. I just want something that I connect to, I put in my credentials, I access and it works for me. I don't want to deal with IT related issues. It is an economy as well where our servers can support. Our servers typically are meant to support up to 20 users. So for one user, you're paying a little bit more than 20 people would as an average. But it is a case by case scenario. I would suggest speaking to one of the consultants here that identifies whether or not for your specific situation, it would be worth it.

We are currently using [inaudible 00:28:48]and have about 160 current file folders. Could our client files be transferred or synced with Abacus?

Yes, what we could do is move those files and folders. If you're looking at the Abacus Private Cloud, we can either move those files and folders into the Abacus Private Cloud for you, and then as I mentioned earlier, if you want to sync a copy of it on your local environment, that's something that we can do as well. But 160 client files and folders is nothing unusual. It's not that much data. It's something that we can do pretty quickly.

How long do we keep backups for?

That's a good question. That's a completely customizable solution. What we do within the private cloud is we havethe ability to do shadow copying. When Iright click on a document or file, I can load a backup from a previous version. If it had a previous version, it would list them all here for me. By default, that is set up for 30 days. By default, it goes back 30 days, but some organizations have requirement around two years, so we just set it up for two years and we let them know that this is how much storage space you're going to need for two years worth of backups for example. But it is customizable.

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