Thank you for attending the Abacus Private Cloud Demo
Abacus Private Cloud ("APC") puts your critical practice data and vital applications into a private virtual workspace that is accessible from any device, anywhere, anytime, while removing IT management burdens and costs.
In this video demo, Mike Wojniak, one of our cloud consultants, gives an overview of what APC is, and how it can help future-proof your firm.
Hey everyone, this is Mike Wojniak over here at Abacus Next, one of the cloud consultants over here. We're going to show you a little bit about the Abacus Private Cloud today.
I hope everyone can see my screen here. I'm going to go through some information and share with you some of the ins and outs of the Abacus Private Cloud along with a little bit about the company as well.
Thank you for attending and thanks for spending your time here with us. We will have an opportunity for questions at the end. Then, if we don't get to any for some reason, I will absolutely be able to follow up via email for any other questions or inquiries that we can answer for you.
We are going to first give you a quick introduction of Abacus Next, which is a company located here in San Diego. We do have a few different offices across the US and also in the UK. We're rapidly expanding and we're moving all over the world. We've become, as of recent, a worldwide company. We acquired a document automation company known as Hot Docs based in Scotland. Now, we have Hot Docs under our Abacus Next umbrella as well. We're very excited about that and integrating with a lot of our products such as Abacus Law, Amicus Attorney, Office Tools and of course, the Abacus Private Cloud.
To start off, I'm going to give you a little bit of info on the Private Cloud, I'm sorry, about Abacus Next. We were founded here in San Diego in 1983. We started as a software company for legal professions. We built Abacus Law about 35 years ago. We have offices now in Palmdale and in Toronto and, like I said, in Edinburgh as well with Hot Docs.
We do also have data centers spread out throughout the US and also in the UK. These data centers are what we use for our US-based clients when we are storing data in the Abacus Private Cloud. Then, we're going to be using data centers in Canada for the Canadian-based clients.
We do have 500-plus employees. That's with the recent acquisition that I mentioned previously of Hot Docs. We also are the parent company to Amicus Attorney, Results CRM, Office Tools, which is our accounting platform and also Abacus Law.
We have, as of recent, 1.5 million clients worldwide that are using our services. This number has been growing rapidly and we've been excited about the growth we've been experiencing. We had five acquisitions last year. Then, we also have partnerships that we've developed over the years with huge companies, such as Microsoft, we're a gold partner with them, QuickBooks, InfusionSoft, Sage, Constant Contact and a number of others.
I'm going to just jump right into talking about the Abacus Private Cloud. The Abacus Private Cloud is a service that we have been providing for the last few years and we've really put a lot of our resources and technology to work to essentially build a platform, a hosting platform for our clients. This is even more than just a hosting platform. It's what we call a "Fully managed IT solution". We're not only managing all of your backups, we're securing your data, we're giving you remote access to what we call a virtual desktop. This virtual desktop will host all of your applications and all of your data and give you that access wherever you are in the world.
Some of the regulatory compliances down here on the left that we built into these private cloud environments are very extensive. You can see, of course which is for the Canadian locations that we service. HIPPA, we're HIPPA complaint for those in the medical industry. Then, SOC 1, SOC 2 and SOC 3. We have really a laundry list of these regulatory compliances that we do adhere to. This is because we deal, of course, primarily with law firms, CPA firms and government agencies, too. These are scenarios where data integrity and data security is of the utmost importance. That's why we've stressed such a high level of compliance with these different organizations.
This representation here shows how the Abacus Private Cloud is built. It is a virtual infrastructure. You can see on the left here, you can connect from any location, from your laptop to your mobile device, from your office desktop to your home or really anywhere in the world as long as you have internet connection. You could be in Thailand or some other place and be accessing not only your application, but your whole virtual desktop, which means as soon as you log in, you're going to see every application that we've installed in there for you. You're going to have all of your data, all of your folders and all of the capability that you have in your office on your desktop will be at your fingertips just on whatever device you're accessing it.
You're internet is going to connect into our data centers. We do have data centers dispersed across the US, in Canada and the UK. It's going to be connecting through a firewall network protection. We use what's called "Sophos Anti-virus and Anti-malware", which is one of the industry leaders in security. These are built into every environment that we create to ensure you're connecting to a very secure 256-bit encryption.
Over here on the right, you can see the infrastructure that we built into it. We have, of course, an operating system built into it. We have document services. We put all of your applications, such as, as I mentioned Office Tools, QuickBooks, Office 365, if you're using Abacus Law, Amicus Attorney, ResultsCRM. Really, nearly any application out there we can host. There are very few exceptions, but most of the applications we can host in there. Then, we also provide database services, domain control, access control.
Then, we're also giving you what I mentioned previously, we call a "Virtual desktop". Just like you log into your computer in your office and you see your desktop with your icons and your links to everything that you use, that's what we have built into a virtual desktop, which I'm going to show you what that looks like here just in a few minutes as well. You'll be able to have a visual representation of it.
Abacus uses very, very high grade data centers. We're using tier four data centers geographically dispersed throughout the US. We do guarantee what we call "99.999 uptime guarantee". That means that the Abacus Private Cloud is going to be functioning for 99.99% of the time, which equals out to, see a few bullet points down, it equals out to 26 minutes of downtime throughout the year.
We're fully redundant with the infrastructure that we build. We have 96-hour power outage protection built in as well. This includes natural disaster recovery. Really, these switch data centers, which is our primary data center are some of the most technologically advanced data centers out there. You can see some of the specifics down here on the left. If anyone wants a copy of this, just shoot me your email. I'll send you out a copy of some of this information too, because it can get pretty technical, but we want to show how advanced this data center is, how it is that we're ensuring that you're going to have your access to your environment at all times and how we're managing the security as well.
Some of you have probably heard about the difference between a private cloud and a public cloud. There's a lot of information going around out there about which is better, which is more cost effective. Ultimately, it boils down to the usage of each environment.
A private cloud is where you are given resources that are specifically used for your organization and no one else. You're separated and segregated from anyone else that could be actually sharing those resources. You can connect through the internet, through fiber private network.
The reasons we generally recommend the private cloud is if you have confidential information and core systems. That means that those in industries such as, like I mentioned before, the legal profession, CPA firms, government agencies, anyone where data integrity is an important part of the business, that's where a private cloud is going to be recommended.
A public cloud is where you are publicly sharing the resources. It's designed for multiple customers. Of course, you can connect in the internet as well. It is suited for less confidential information. Because you are sharing resources, it is going to be less secure and it is going to be less cost effective as well.
With the private cloud, you can access all of your applications, all of your data from any location, any device at any time. It's what we call "Device agnostic", meaning you can use an Apple device, an Android device. As long as you have the remote desktop login, you'll be able to get into your virtual desktop.
If you're dealing with an office with an aging server, aging technology, this replaces the need to ever have to maintain or update a server. It replaces significant IT costs and any downtime associated with trying to replace a server, trying to update it. It gives you the utmost security for your data and your client's data.
It is completely customizable as well, meaning we can give you a number of different customized solutions in the Abacus Private Cloud based upon your needs and your usage. If you're running a number of very complex applications that are resource heavy, we would know to give you more RAM and more resources to ensure that we've customized it exactly to your needs.
The other benefit is that is completely scalable, meaning if you need to add another office on the other side of the country, you don't have to connect through a network. We can build a virtual network and we can connect to your private cloud. We can give as many virtual servers as you need at any time. We can add users at any time. We can add resources, data space. All of these things that are difficult to add into a physical server and a physical IT infrastructure, we can do this virtually, very easily and quickly. If you are looking to grow your company, you are looking for something that's easily scalable, the private cloud is highly recommended.
Abacus, as I mentioned, we do like to refer to our company as "Technology as a service". That's what we provide. We're giving you, not just a platform to host, but we're managing everything for you. We're giving you the applications. We're giving you the support and we're giving you, really, the ability to customize it in any way that you desire.
This diagram here shows that we're providing the data center, the hardware, the operating system, managing all of the backups. Because we own a number of different software applications, when we host them in our private cloud, we can completely control the environment so we can assure they're running efficiently and effectively. Then, we can assure that you're always getting the most up to date releases, which includes the security patches, any upgrades that are coming out. Then, we can add in new users at any time. We can help your staff members understand how to use the applications and understand how to use the Abacus Private Cloud in the best way as well.
I'm going to touch briefly on ransomware. It's a topic that has hit the news quite a bit in the last couple of years because really it has begun to affect so many businesses out there. As you can see, 50% of businesses were hit in 2016. The small to medium businesses are being hit for this. There's a number of really hackers that are in, well they're located all over the world, but their ultimate goal is to hold your data hostage and essentially extort money from you. They know when to hit. They know who to hit. They know what to look for. These are very sophisticated criminals. They're becoming more sophisticated as well. As our technology advances, they're advancing too.
As you can see, in quarter one of 2016 alone, 209 million was paid in ransomware. The infected PCs, they're encrypted very quickly at 200 files a second. Literally, within 60 to 90 seconds, an infection can spread across your entire network. The Abacus Private Cloud, if you are by some way hit by this, we can actually recover an infected environment in under 30 minutes.
This is good news because, say someone on your firm clicks on an email, it has an attachment, a PDF attachment with a Microsoft Word document that opens afterward and it runs a script. This can, of course, affect your entire network within seconds. Because we do what we call "24/7 monitoring" on the systems, we are always monitoring for any type of peak or any unusual activity. We can segregate an employee who has been infected and we can avoid this from spreading within seconds.
We have different types of security that we build in to each environment. We do have what's called "Multi-factor authentication", this MFA right here. If you haven't used it before, it's a notification that is sent to your mobile device, it's what's called a "Push" notification that is instantaneous, it's not a text or a phone call, but it comes directly to your device and you won't be able to access the private cloud environment until you've authorized that device with your credentials or given it the "OK". This is any time a new device logs in. It's to ensure that someone else isn't logging into your environment.
We can also do things such as limiting the access. We can do it by location, by address, by specific groups or roles, time or even the time and date.
As I mentioned before, we built in quite a few different methods of security to ensure that your data will always be, not only backed up, but in a secure environment as well.
I did mention that the Abacus Private Cloud can completely replace the need for a local and dedicated server. We do have an ability to do a hybrid solution as well where we do store locally, but also in the private cloud environment. Ultimately, if you are moving into a private cloud infrastructure, the need for a server is no longer there. This replaces any weak IT security, local IT costs, dealing with multiple vendors.
This is a huge benefit as well because if you're dealing with a software company then an IT company, often, there's another IT company who is for on-call services and you have multiple software applications you're using, you have to call each one for any type of challenge that you experience or any support you need. With Abacus Next, because we have a number of different applications under our umbrella, we have a support team specializing in a wide range of IT knowledge base as well, we can assist with really any type of support request, especially if you need to call Microsoft, QuickBooks, you can call us for support on those because we're partners with those vendors as well.
You don't have to worry about keeping your hardware and software up to date. That's something that Abacus Next would handle for you. Our support teams do software updates. Then, really, you don't have to deal with IT related issues anymore. That's something that we take on for you. It's a huge expense. It can be a very time consuming process to deal with IT related challenges. That's where we come in and we become your, what we call "One stop shop".
That's the end of my slide here. I'm going to show you the Abacus Private Cloud, how you get into it. It's very easy to use, very simple to work in as well.
Right now, I'm actually in my Abacus Private Cloud virtual desktop. You can see right here, if I minimize this window, goes down, this is my local desktop right here. I wish mine was as clean as this. It's not actually mine, but to get into it ... I'm going to get out and get back in so you can see how easily I can access it.
Going to go to my remote desktop. This app right here, Remote Desktop, is available for free from the app store. Most PCs come with it installed on it already. Once you have credentials, you'll hit connect and it'll allow you to log in here. Just like that, I'm into my entire virtual desktop.
What that means is, I have access to all of my applications, all of my data. I can access the internet. We can customize each folder on here for permission levels for your employees. If you want certain employees to have access to a number of folders and other employees to have restricted access, we can customize all of that.
You can see here, if I just minimize it, this is my virtual desktop and this my local desktop here. I can copy and paste that into there, if I want to drag it in there and make sure that it's saved and backed up.
In mine, I have Abacus Law. I have my email. I have Abacus Accounting. This is demo environment, so I don't have all the applications in here, but you can see how quickly I can get in here, how quickly I can access all of my applications. If I'm on the road anywhere, I can get in here and ensure that I'm not missing a beat.
We're about 25 minutes in, so I'm going to open up to questions. If anyone has any questions, feel free to shoot them over. If not, you can always reach out afterwards.
Alright, I've just seen the questions come in here now. Thank you for the questions.
We do have a question here. "You mention that they know what they look for. What types of things do they look for that we can avoid?"
That's a great question because there are a number of different types of threats and types of attacks that come in. They come in through different methods. Some of the key components to look for, if you see an email from someone with a document attached or a link attached that you weren't expecting them to send you a document, that's a tell-tale sign right there.
For example, just the other day, I had a client that I've been dealing with at a large CPA firm, sends me an email with a PDF attached and said, "This is confidential. Please review as soon as possible."
Honestly, I wasn't expecting a document to be sent from him. I emailed back, "Is this coming from you? Was this intended for me?" Believe it or not, I actually received a response back: "Yes. Please open immediately. This is confidential."
To me, that threw up a warning sign because I wasn't expecting anything. I didn't get any explanation, so I replied again, "Please give me a call at your earliest convenience so I can discuss."
Then, I received an email from the client itself. Apparently, this wasn't actually from him. It was from someone who had hacked his device. He said, "This is a virus. Do not open."
My point is, keep an eye out for any type of attachments that you're not expecting, any documents, because those can be, of course, a threat. There's a PDF that is opened and then it opens to a Microsoft Word, runs a script. That's a pretty common ransomware attack there.
Some of the other things to keep your eye out for: Obviously, changing your passwords frequently. I would recommend doing that every 30 days. Then, also not storing them in a location where it's easily accessible. Last Pass is a great place to store all of your passwords. Last Pass will keep them in a, not only a secure place, but a centralized location too and update it frequently. I know we all have a gagillion different logins. That's a great place to do it.
I will follow up too, with an email on some other tips on that because there are some great recommendations that we have on keeping things secure. I'm going to keep going because I see there's more questions coming in here.
"The cost for a small office?"
The cost, it depends on a few different variables. The data size can adjust the cost. We do have right now a promotion called "Office in a box", which is designed for five users or less. That's where we essentially prorate the cost of the virtual server, the licenses and the software to make it more affordable for those in that user range.
I can send you as well some specific pricing. I would probably need a little more information to give you accurate pricing, but I can tell you, it ranges in low 100 range up to the 200 range per user, depending on how much data storage you have and the types of applications, whether or not they're extremely resource heavy or very lighter applications. That's kind of a ballpark. If you want an accurate quote, I can definitely build one for you as well.
See here. I see another question here: "Are you an interface for QuickBooks?"
We are. We are a QuickBooks partner and we also host QuickBooks for a number of our clients. In the Abacus Private Cloud, we can add your QuickBooks licenses in there and we can also provide the licenses if you don't already have a version yourself. We can provide support on that since we're a partner with them. Definitely something that we do quite often and we have a lot of experience with.
Another question: "Would my QuickBooks just run on your site?" It would. Yeah. I started to answer that too, but we can definitely install QuickBooks into the Abacus Private Cloud and you would be able to access it through that Remote Desktop icon.
Often, we have more of our financial clients who will have their clients have a login as well as their own staff members. We'll create one virtual server for the staff and one for their clients. That way, they can share information and QuickBooks files through the cloud. Some of them will have clients in other countries. It's very to just log into the Abacus Private Cloud, share QuickBooks files back and forth. It just streamlines the process of sharing.
Alright, couple more questions here. "The per user cost?"
That's where I was diving into. It does depend on how we structure the environment. If you want to shoot me your email, I can give you a little bit more specific information once I gather a few more details from you. That way, we can hone on what type of pricing it would look like.
Alright, couple more questions here. "The product itself is scalable. Does the Abacus Next user service agreement for this product allow for expansion and contraction of company size number of users?"
That's a good question. When you sign an agreement, it is for that particular usage and that customized private cloud environment that we've built. We can always add new users into that. What we do is called is a "Co-terminus agreement". That would amend your current agreement and essentially add an addendum with either new resources or new users, whatever we're adding into that environment to make a change. That would be, again, like I said, a co-terminus agreement. We can do that at any time in a term.
As far as the contraction and reduction of actual users, how we handle that, we have what's called "Flex users". These are temporary users. If you do have a number of staff members that you think may not be there very long or they're just hired for a busy part of the season, we would recommend having a flex user license that would let you remove it within a 30-day notice at any time. The rest of the licenses on the agreement just stay for the term, but yeah, if you add flex users or if you think you may need to reduce some users at some point, we would recommend using the flex user.
One more question here: "How do you save from the remote desktop to a server or separate file not on remote desktop?"
That's a good question, too. There's a couple different ways to do that. We can, of course, depending on the size file, you can copy and paste from the virtual desktop into a local desktop. There are some restrictions on size like I said, but then there's also a way where we can save to certain folders. Whenever we built the environment, we can customize where certain files are being saved. We can direct them to different folders and different locations.
If we want to build in a method to save to a certain location, that's something we can easily do in the build out and we can customize it at that time as well. There's a number of different ways we can do that. It would be dependent upon how we want to structure it and how you want it to be set up.
Alright, a couple more questions. Have a few people that wanted to talk and wanted some more information via email. I definitely appreciate you all taking the time to listen to this information. I know there's a lot of information out there. Hopefully I hit on some of the more important and useful topics. If there's anything else that we can help by sharing next time, I'm more than open to feedback. Again, my name is Mike Wojniak. I'm over here with Abacus Next. I will be reaching out to those who attended and those who requested information. Just keep an eye out from an email from Mike over Abacus. I look forward to speaking to you. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to reach out. Again, it's Mike over here at Abacus Next. Hope you all have a wonderful day. I will be in touch soon.