Apollo Information Technology Corp (AIT) is an accounting technology business services company that helps organizations centralize their QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Enterprise access, data and files and collaborate live with their accountant. So they can be quickly shared with their accountant’s in a collaborative live environment. Where the accountant does not have to worry about going to the client’s offices for any accounting data nor does the client/accountant need to make any effort to send or receive the latest data but rather have a shared live feed of the QuickBooks accounting application, accounting files and data.
AIT required an AWS partner to build an automated secure solution that will support and scale with the number of users it tends to bring on. i2m delivers the workspace access information and automates the entire process of the Amazon Workspace delivery to the new client/end user. Where upon receiving the customized Workspace email from AIT. The Workspace will be available for immediate access to QuickBooks and the client data that was uploaded in an earlier process by their accountant into their designated file storage location.
A robust Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan that will scale with growth of AIT customers that’s not too hard on the wallet. AIT wanted to make sure security policies are adequate, best practices followed and to provide support services around the solution:
- Creating a Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BCDR) plan.
- Automated Delivery and Scaling of Amazon Workspace Environment and storage solution.
- Centralized QuickBooks Database and File Server with Automated Management
- Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BCDR) features for AIT’s new cloud environment.
- CloudBerry for File Backup and Restore and Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BCDR) operations. • Automated AMI and Snapshot Scheduling and Maintenance Solution using Elastic CloudGate and AWS Lambda.
- Amazon Machine Images (AMIs) for DR functions to different regions.
- Amazon Workpspace’s connected to Amazon Directory Services in an alternate region.
- Each Amazon Workspace is pre-imaged with all the software required by the users. The
Workspaces environment will include QuickBooks desktop application as primary application
and office bundle if required by the end user. Workspace Image Bundle ready for DR
scenario in alternate region for Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BCDR).
- File Server AMIs will be used to restore the File Server in a separate region if required for
- Storage and Systems Governance and Cost Optimization Platform using CloudHealth by
- Cloud based Alerting/Monitoring Solution for storage and critical systems.
i2m added additional Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BCDR), Primary Storage and Backup and Restore capabilities for AIT’s new cloud environment
- We implemented our managed i2mcloud Enterprise Backup solution which uses Amazon S3
or Amazon S3 Glacier as its cloud-based storage to establish Backup, Restore and Business
Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BCDR) capabilities.
- This solution also took advantage of end-end encryption for data at rest and in transit. We
have multiple recovery points in a day to cover any loss during business hours.
- Users can restore data that they worked on during the day which was a great advantage for
AIT clients instead of having the responsibility of managing and backing up their own
- Full regional failover capabilities were tested and future planning for regional recovery of the
Amazon Workspace, Active Directory, QuickBooks File and Database Manager environment
to a more optimal region will be conducted.
- Automated AMI and Snapshot Scheduling and Maintenance Solution using Elastic
CloudGate and AWS Lambda.
The following AWS technology was used:
- Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3)
- Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS)
- AWS CloudFormation
- AWS Tools for Windows PowerShell
- Amazon EC2
- Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC)
- AWS Lambda
- AWS Identity & Access Management (IAM)
- AWS Single Sign-On
- AWS Config
- AWS CloudTrail
- Amazon Guard Duty
- Amazon CloudWatch
The following i2m technology was implemented:
- Backup and Restore operations using Cloudberry Enterprise Backup
- Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BCDR) Implementation
- Elastic CloudGate – AMI and Snapshot Scheduling and Maintenance Solution
- Centralized File Storage, Collaboration and Management
- CloudHealth by VMware – Storage and Systems Governance and Cost Optimization Platform
- Nagios Check_MK – Monitoring and Alerting System
i2m Solution Benefits
When AIT started their organization in the cloud, it gave them increased stability, availability,
redundancy, scalability and performance gains in providing their accounting services in an
automated fashion. By using AWS tools like AWS Tools for PowerShell and AWS CloudFormation
templates along with custom i2m automation tools. We were able to completely automate the
process for the environment to scale accordingly with the addition of new clients and new client
users’ while providing a strong Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan with regional and
even global capabilities.
We have learned a lot of lessons from our Disaster Recovery testing and seeing how it would up
hold in the real world. While selecting a Disaster Recovery region may seem straight forward
that’s not always the case. Typically, we tested against regions we are more familiar with,
forgetting there maybe a closer neighbor in another country. With guidance from AWS they
were able to point out that there is a more optimal region that is closer in proximity then the
one had chosen for DR. Therefor enhancing the user experience in a Disaster Recovery scenario
so access to files remain in the same region as the Workspace Environment. As Amazon
Workspaces is not available in all regions. Region planning was key in enhancing the overall user
experience and the network performance to the File System.
We finished stage 1 of the project in less than a week for the production environment on AWS.
We then started stage 2 of automating new clients and new user onboarding using PowerShell
scripts to automate the entire process of creating the client and user directory in the AIT
environment. We then automated the delivery of the Amazon Workspaces so that once the
created and verified the solution will send an automated email to the end user for instructions
on accessing the Amazon Workspace and using the AIT customized Amazon Workspace for their
QuickBooks and other accounting functions.
This gave us more control and made the overall solutions less prone to user error by providing a
consistent end user experience while being delivered in a more automated fashion. This reduced
overall IT management and new deployment time and allowed the user’s Amazon Workspaces
to become more available and immutable as we can easily recreate them with a few inputs and
user’s data would persist.
The stakeholders at AIT, were very pleased with the outcome. By creating a new line of business
for AIT and its clients giving them a centralized secure, modernized cloud environment for live
calibration. AIT clients were extremely happy with the performance of the environment but most
of all the functionality and efficiency it offered both the primary accounting firm and their
clients. Reducing client and accountant visits and increased efficiency for both parties leaving
them with more time in their workday for core mission objectives.
The next phase of the project is to automate the initial deliver of accounting data and QB Files
from new clients. Where i2m plans to build an automated storage upload location that will have
the user login with their same AD credentials for the Workspace and be able to upload
document in a secure fashion to their QuickBooks Workspace Environment.
- Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) – 80% reduction in TCO over the course of 3 years compared to on-premise/colocated VDI solution 20% reduction in TCO over 3 years compared to other cloud providers.
- Disaster Recovery RTO – 2 Hours
- Disaster Recover RPO – 3 hours
- Disaster Recovery Cost Benefits – Maintaining a DR onpremise/co-located VDI Infrastructure is very expensive vs DR of Amazon Workspaces Environment on AWS ~ 70% cost savings using a 3 year cost analysis.
- Performance Gains – 50% gain in user Performance Experience increased compared to running QuickBooks locally or onpremise.
- System Uptime and Availability – %99.9999 over 6 month period.