By Paul Ponzeka, Managing Director of Engineering at Abacus Group
One of the things that gets us excited here at Abacus is playing with new technology. Something that gets us even more excited is being able to apply that technology to fit our clients’ needs and create great solutions that add value for them and make it easier for them to focus on investments rather than technology. Our dedicated R&D team is constantly innovating and exploring new solutions.
I want to share some of the exciting things we’re preparing to roll-out to clients over the next few months.
As more and more of our clients grow in size, they’re establishing office space in various geographic regions. This means storing their firm’s files on a corporate shared drive in just one primary data center location can be a pain point, as a user trying to update a file in London when the server is in a New York area data center can be slow and painful from the user experience. Data stored in any type of cloud (or on-premise) environment means inherent latency (time to transfer data due to physical distance between where the data is stored and where the user is located). As a result, users are forced to either suffer speed delays (when we expect everything to be faster at our finger tips) or copying the files to a secondary location and dealing with versioning issues.
This is why we’ve developed a file server sync solution for multi-region clients who require fast access to files while keeping sensitive data in our secure private cloud environment. Our server syncing solution allows us to replicate data securely to multiple data centers that are close to users (shorter distance = faster access) while retaining file locking so you don’t have to be concerned about multiple people making changes to the same file at the same time.
As with everything we do, our server syncing solution has been developed first and foremost keeping in mind the unique security needs of our alternative investment firm clients. We are in the final stages and expect to roll-out this option to clients in April 2018.
Secure File Sharing and Remote File Access
While some files are sensitive and required to be protected within the private cloud, many of our clients have told us they want to start using a secure file sharing and remote file access system but are fearful of the security implications of using an off-the-shelf Dropbox-style solution.
To address this need our team is putting the final touches on an enterprise-level file solution that will meet the demanding and unique security needs of the investment community. We’re building in tightly controlled access with single sign-on, auditing and reporting, and the ability to centrally manage user access from all types of devices whether they are corporate PC’s, mobile devices or personal devices. This new secure file sharing and remote file access solution will soon be available within our signature IT-as-a-Service product, AbacusFLEX.
As our clients continue to use more cloud-based apps, such as Salesforce or Amazon Web Services (AWS), they need to be able to authenticate to these sites securely and according to their company security policies. Our team has analyzed the security and user experience around these processes to build a better mousetrap.
Our new Identity-as-a-Service (IDaaS) platform does just that and allows users to leverage their Abacus ID corporate credentials with non-Abacus cloud-based apps. This means our centralized reporting, multi-factor authentication and security policies automatically get applied. Your Abacus ID will be the only password that you need to remember, and, from a compliance perspective, if an employee leaves your firm, all you have to do is disable their access by requesting via our secure Client Portal that their Abacus ID to be terminated. This means you no longer need to chase down various software vendors to terminate or change user access.
We are in the midst of integrating a library of applications commonly used by our clients, and look forward to rolling out this service to clients in the next couple of months.
AbacusFLEX Hybrid with Microsoft Office 365
Based on value creation for our clients and prospects, single sign-on via our new IDaaS platform has been established with Microsoft’s public cloud. We recently announced how we’ve paired the best of our secure enterprise-driven private cloud IT platform with the public Microsoft cloud, offering the option of using Office 365 hosted email and apps as part of our AbacusFLEX Hybrid solution.
In building this hybrid cloud solution, we focused on the unique needs of our clients, who demand ease-of-use and secure integration with their entire IT system. I’m proud to say that our solution provides the best of both worlds, allowing our clients access to the latest technology from Microsoft, coupled with Abacus's scalable private cloud infrastructure, all wrapped up in one package that meets alternative investment firms’ security, compliance and corporate requirements.
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure
In the midst of all of the above-mentioned projects, our engineering team is also in the final testing stages of a brand new system we plan to roll out by mid-year – a fully secure virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) that employs automated security patching and updates, with just a click to deploy software and user provisioning automation. The VDI will be contained within a secure container for corporate data. Check out my recent article on VDI to learn more about this exciting initiative.