Your Cloud, Your Way: What Makes our abacusFlex-Public Cloud Service Different

Feb 5, 2020

By Paul Ponzeka, CTO at Abacus Group

Our signature abacusFlex IT-as-a-Service solution has evolved significantly since we first started offering it back in 2008 to alternative investment firms, with private cloud hosting in our Abacus data centers. In 2018, we launched our hybrid cloud version, with the option to have email hosted with Microsoft O365. And now, our most recent version – abacusFlex-Public Cloud – has been built and structured entirely around native public cloud services, making it our most flexible and dynamic to date.

There is a lot of information out there regarding public cloud, and various ways you can craft a Platform-as-a-Service offering. Our approach differentiates us from the rest of the industry.

Scalable Platform

At Abacus, we focus on how we can deliver the best experience to our users. We’ve built a scalable platform, enabling us to meet the needs of clients big or small. Instead of trying to “re-invent the wheel” with each customer, we focus on building modular, scalable solutions that we can bolt on depending on a client’s needs. This allows us to provide our clients with the most consistent user experience that meets their needs.

Native Public Cloud Service

We approached abacusFlex-Public Cloud as a ground-up rewrite of our abacusFlex service. What makes our use of the public cloud so unique is that we crafted our offering utilizing native public cloud services from Microsoft Azure. What this means is that we are not simply running legacy-based infrastructure inside Microsoft. Nor are we installing Domain Controllers on Azure VMs, running a legacy file server that still requires a VPN to access files remotely or requiring traditional GPOs. We instead designed abacusFlex-Public Cloud utilizing the latest and greatest service offerings available. Native utilization of the Azure Active Directory allows our users to utilize their computers from anywhere, while still giving compliance and security teams the ability to manage and apply corporate governance anywhere they have internet, without the hassle of a legacy VPN.

Easy Mobile Access

Many users dislike having to connect to a VPN or using Citrix XenApp in order to gain access to their on-prem file server setup. That’s why we’re using Sharepoint and OneDrive to replace your legacy file server, giving users access to their files from anywhere, natively. If you want to access files from your mobile phone or tablet, simply download the app and log in! If you need to access files on the road or while working remotely, fire up your laptop and open the OneDrive app. With abacusFlex-Public Cloud, there are no more clunky VPNs with remote scripts or slow opening of files from home.

Improved Endpoint Management

One of the biggest shifts we made with abacusFlex-Public Cloud was to PC/Endpoint management. 10 years ago, the way you accessed corporate data was dramatically different. Most of it was done through a PC in the office, with some remote email after hours. Now, your users are more mobile and abacusFlex-Public Cloud is designed to meet those needs. Instead of needing to get access to the corporate office to sync usernames and passwords on laptops or dealing with configuring different devices for a consistent workflow, we’ve taken a different approach and are treating all devices equally. Gone are legacy GPO’s that are difficult to manage and maintain, but also only apply to corporate PCs. With Microsoft Intune, we are utilizing modern management approaches that govern all your devices, whether it be a Windows Office PC, remote laptop, mobile phone, tablet or Mac. We can configure your security settings and user workflow regardless of where the endpoint is. Firms will also no longer have to worry about control over their data when users access it from a remote computer. Intune modern management allows control to govern and restrict access, but also remotely wipe devices.

Security and Controls

When it comes to security and controls, abacusFlex-Public Cloud has you covered. Firms need absolute control over their security settings and configurations in the public cloud, and abacusFlex-Public Cloud includes this by default. We leverage the scale and automation capability of the Abacus platform to keep our customers protected. If you need to restrict users from accessing corporate data from personal devices or need to ensure your data is encrypted at rest, we can set those policies.

Advanced User Activity Monitoring

All authentication and user activity are logged in Office 365. Abacus monitors this activity more efficiently than other providers and with more intelligence. We aggregate all of our customers’ activity into our SIEM platform, and by utilizing AI and machine learning, we can respond to threats against an individual as well as threat patterns across our entire customer base. If there is an uptick in social engineering or password birthday attacks targeting financial services, we can detect that across our customer base and put controls in place or mitigate it. If we see your users attempting to log in from multiple countries at the same time, we can detect and block that. If we see ransomware attacks from a specific bad actor set, we can update rule sets and protections across the entirety of our platform and user base, not just one customer at a time.   

Access and Transparency

Our internally developed Client Portal provides you with the insight and information you need to run your business. At Abacus, we have automated our information gathered directly from our public cloud services. If you need to know your device inventory, including all computers, mobile devices and the software installed on them, ready-built reports are available to you and are automatically updated daily. There is no need to pay a tech to walk around and check each device. If you need to know what URLs you are blocking and how you fare against your peer groups, a section is available in the abacusPortal that lists your blocked sites and the percentages of Abacus customers that follow suit. If you need to request a new user or add them to distribution lists, there is no need to open a ticket. Simply open your abacusPortal and follow the “New User Wizard.” It will automatically create the user and add them to the groups that you select. All of these capabilities and more are available right in our Client Portal.

These are just some of the ways that Abacus does public cloud differently. We have always taken the stance that we need to provide our clients with all the necessary IT tools to meet current and future cybersecurity needs, all while meeting storage and compliance requirements and offering the best service in the industry.

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