This Boston-based public accounting firm was locked into a lagging private cloud. After reaching out to iCorps, we moved them to Azure via our Encompass program, modernized their application stack, ensured they complied with all federal and state regulations, and cut their cost of ownership in half. Here's how:
This company has been modernizing Boston's accounting vertical for the past 15 years. They began as a tax and business advisory service in 2004, before adding accounting and auditing services in 2010. They now provide tax consulting, compliance, accounting, auditing, and advisory services to corporate executives, entrepreneurs, private equity ventures, and more. Their paperless approach allows them to support clients globally, providing an organized and educational approach to tax management.
When this client came to us, they were frustrated with the quality of service from their then provider. They were using a third-party vendor who hosted their infrastructure in a private cloud. Although the arrangement had initially appealed to them, because they didn't have to invest as much in on-premise hardware and licensing, the quality of service steadily declined. Their applications required more horsepower and faster access, which the vendor was unable to provide. Users reported chronic sluggishness while performing simple tasks, and their servers were vastly under-performing. They spent over three months trying to correct the issues, but never received the quality of service they needed. Their technology was far from optimized, and they didn't have control over their digital assets.
At this point, the firm reached out to iCorps for a thorough technology assessment. Our consultants recommended moving their infrastructure to Microsoft Azure, a public cloud platform that would give them full control of their digital assets. Their employees were already familiar with cloud-based and remote computing, so the shift to Azure wouldn't present a serious change in workflow. We were also very clear in the type of Azure tenant we would create for them. Many MSPs create their own Azure environments, then bring clients in for ease of management. However, much like the private-cloud model, the client still doesn't have full control over their digital property. At iCorps, we create unique Azure tenants for each of our clients, ensuring that they have full control of their intellectual property, while we ensure things run smoothly. They took our recommendations to their third-party vendor, but realized they were unable to implement the suggestions.
It became clear that their vendor was incapable of implementing our suggestions and unwilling to assist in the process of moving the firm's digital assets. As such, our consultants carefully mapped out the migration - which was executed over a single night. When assessing their infrastructure, we made some early determinations. As avid Exchange users, we would move their employees to Office 365. We would also build them a new remote desktop and upgrade all workstations to Windows 10. Seeing that our client has both in-office and remote employees, it was essential to have them on the same secure operating system. We also ensured that their line of business applications and tax software would integrate seamlessly into the Azure stack.
To best accommodate their mobile employees, we leveraged Microsoft Intune for mobile device, application, and PC management capabilities from the cloud. This ensured their employees would have access to their corporate applications, data, and resources from virtually anywhere, while keeping the information secure. Multi-factor authentication and single-sign-on provide additional layers of security, in their new unified threat management strategy. Our engineers deployed cloud-based antivirus to all workstations and servers, and implemented full disk encryption to secure their clients' personally identifiable information (PII). The morning after the migration, their employees were signing into a faster, safer, and more scalable network. They now have full control of their data, are experiencing far better system performance, and can conduct their work in an environment that prioritizes client security.
As a public accounting firm, our client's infrastructure needed to reflect the standards set by the state of Massachusetts and the Internal Revenue Service. With these constraints in mind, we designed a security first infrastructure that used the most-restrictive regulations as a baseline. Our consultants maintain the firm's tax software, ensuring that it's current and compliant with IRS standards for the treatment of PII. This is especially important during tax season, when updates are rolled out weekly. We have also helped them meet IRS data security requirements by regularly identifying and assessing risks to their network, and adjusting their safeguards as needed.
Under IRS Revenue Procedures, our client is also required to regularly test and monitor their data recovery and continuity processes. Through Azure, our consultants have implemented a geographically-redundant backup solution to ensure their data is protected in the event of a disaster. Their employees have a formal disaster recovery plan, with recovery time and point objectives for each application. Furthermore, their applications and services are tested, reviewed, and updated at least annually to comply with industry best-practices. Our technicians have implemented regular vulnerability scanning with daily change review and continue to harden their network.
Now that our client is reaping the benefits of a public cloud environment, our consultants have been focusing on modernizing their Microsoft stack of services. We want to ensure that their employees continue to operate at a very high level and are looking for ways to make them more agile. Part of this effort is thinning their endpoints. This involves transitioning from productivity-based devices, including laptops, to more consumption-based devices, like tablets. We will be mapping laptop-based tools, such as Sequel for database management, to their thinner application equivalents, such as the Sequel App. This lowers the cost of ownership, is more mobile, and allows employees to put all their computing in the cloud. As they grow, our consultants will continue to refine their Azure footprint for optimal performance and return on investment.