Apollo Information Technology Corp (AIT) is an accounting technology business services company that helps business 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 and other accounting files and data.
AIT Requires an AWS partner to build an automated secure solution that will support and scale with the amount of users it tends to bring on. AIT also wanted to make sure security policies are adequate, best practices followed and to provide support services around the solution:
- Active Directory Domain Environment
- Automated Delivery and Scaling Amazon Workspace Environment
- QuickBooks License Version Automation and Control
- QuickBooks Database and File Server
- DR and Business Continuity planning
Recognizing that AWS and i2m would be an ideal fit for AIT, i2m implemented a plan to maximize the benefits of both, including the following changes to AIT IT infrastructure:
- This is a new Amazon Workspaces Environment for the QuickBooks users (accountants and bookkeepers) is meant mean to centralize and automate the delivery of QuickBooks from the cloud.
- The Accounting Company will have remote and easy access to clients QB Files from their primary AWS account making it easier for the client to store their company QB Files and work on them interactively with the Accountant in the new AIT cloud environment. Created VPC Peering Connections from the Primary Accounting firm’s VPC to the new AIT VPC ensuring a secure connection between the Primary Accounting firm’s AWS resources and their new AIT AWS environment.
- We and AIT migrate client data that is being on boarded via the VPC peering connection.
- Environment consists of Active Directory Domain Controllers and File/Application Servers for QuickBooks Database Manager and Amazon Workspaces with AWS Directory Services for authenticating to Amazon Workspaces users.
- The Workspaces environment will include QuickBooks desktop application as primary application and office bundle if required by the end user. Each Workspace is pre-imaged with all the software required by the users.
- 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.
- EC2 Instances were created using CloudFormation templates and configured for File, Print, Application, Security and other services which are shared by AIT AWS Environment.
- Domain Controllers span multiple availability zones which ensures high availability and redundancy for these critical components.
- Centralized monitoring & alerting for their cloud-based infrastructure.
- Remote Help Desk Support (level 1-3) to address user and system issues.
- DR and Business Continuity features for AIT’s new cloud environment.
i2m added additional DR and Business Continuity features for the PA CareerLink’s new cloud environment
We implemented our managed i2mcloud Enterprise Backup solution which uses Amazon S3 as its cloud based storage and backup agents running on critical nodes in their infrastructure to establish DR and Business Continuity capabilities. This solution also took advantage of end-end encryption for data at rest and in transit.
The following AWS technology was used:
- AWS Powershell
- EC2 – Windows and Linux
- AWS Config and CloudTrail
The following i2m technology was implemented:
- cloud Enterprise Backup – CloudBerry
- i2m Monitoring/Alerting System – Nagios Check_MK
- Active Directory
- File Sharing Services
- Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Implementation
- ConnectWise (LabTech)
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 for PowerShell and Cloudformation templates and some 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’.
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 Workspaces so that once the workspace has been completed and verified it will send an automated email to the end user for instructions on Accessing the workspace and using the AIT customized Workspace for QuickBooks and other accounting functions.
The stakeholders at AIT, were very pleased with the outcome. By creating a new line of business for AIT and it’s clients it gave them a 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 also increased efficiency for both parties leaving them with more time in their workday for mission objects of the client and accountant.
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.