When we were chosing a comprehensive integrated business automation system (CRM, PnL, task and workflow management) for our company, we defined the following requirements:
- continuous complete possession of information, its mobility and flexibility - regular automatic export or backup of all data in an open format with the ability to both import back into the same platform and to continue working in alternative platforms;
- customizability and extensibility of functionality;
- interaction with external systems via API;
- cloud solution with high availability;
- web and mobile clients;
- relatively fast implementation;
- relatively low cost.
Having studied the market, we could find only one product that met our requirements – Bitrix24. We started to implement it, but this process was interrupted by the war in Eastern Europe. We had to abandon this Russian product due to a number of information security risks and sanctions imposed on Russia.
We independently developed and successfully implemented our own integrated business automation system, consisting of three products: H-X CRM, H-X Task Manager and H-X Document Workflow. It took us 4 months. We wrote about 3000 lines of code and spent 450 man-hours. We managed to achieve such results thanks to the modern approach to software development – Low Code.
We and some of our clients use our systems in everyday business processes.
This solution is optimal for small and medium businesses. We are happy to share our experience and developments with you. If necessary, we will help you to refine our solutions to the specifics of your business or teach you how to do it yourself.
Our marketing and sales departments faced the need to develop piles of slides. We provide over 40 services and solutions. Quite often, there are changes in our portfolio, cases, certificates, etc. Given all this, maintaining and updating slides turned out to be very laborious and lengthy processes. Therefore, we decided to develop our own H-X AutoPDF system to automate the generation and management of presentations.
H-X AutoPDF allows you to automatically generate presentations, sales quotes and other PDF documents from Google Slides or Google Docs templates. H-X AutoPDF automatically uploads the generated PDF files to Google Drive and your corporate web server and then provides links that you can quickly send to your customers or partners.
The main advantages of H-X AutoPDF over manual PDF creation are:
- standardisation of template slides and sample presentations;
- automatic PDF generation;
- in case templates have been updated (for example, due to changes in company data), it is possible to quickly update all presentations, including the ones whose links have already been shared with customers or partners.
Another important advantage is a significant reduction in hosting costs by reducing the disk space used by slides and their backups. We and some of our clients use the H-X AutoPDF system to automate sales processes on an ongoing basis.
Cloud-based intercontinental backup and versioning system
In connection with the threats of cyberattacks, ransomware, and even nuclear war, we decided to develop a data backup and versioning system that would be located simultaneously on multiple continents and with multiple cloud service providers to reduce the risk of simultaneous damage to different copies of our information. In addition to maximum reliability, we wanted to implement the most flexible and inexpensive tools with additional functionality, namely the ability to restore different versions of files.
We decided to develop H-X Backup based on Google Drive cloud storage with additional backup on AWS S3. Working with Google Drive is very convenient due to tight integration with Google Docs, Sheets and Slides office applications.
Google Drive has some backup features:
- Stores versions of Google documents (in the top menu ”File > Version history”).
- Versions of files with an arbitrary format are stored (in the context menu of the file “Manage versions”).
- When deleted, the files are placed in the Trash Bin.
However, Google Drive information is vulnerable in the following scenarios:
- Old file versions lost – the limits are 100 versions or 30 days.
- Files deleted from the Trash Bin by accident or by a malicious program (virus, ransomware, etc.).
- Many files changed or deleted at once, for example by ransomware. In this case, it is inconvenient to restore versions or files from the Trash Bin one by one.
Partially, these vulnerabilities can be solved using Google's paid services, namely Data Export and Vault. However, these services have severe limitations:
- there is no automatic scheduled export, only manual export is available;
- the information recorded later than 24 hours before the start of export is not saved;
- export takes at least 48 hours, usually 72 hours and sometimes up to 14 days;
- re-export is available no earlier than 30 days after the previous one.
Also, if you rely only on Google, then the information is vulnerable in such scenarios, the probability of which is quite low, but not zero:
- Loss of access to your Google account: a lost or stolen password, or the account closed/blocked by Google.
- Temporary unavailability of Google: either on your side or Google's.
- Loss of information on Google servers: technical failure, accident, natural disaster, etc.
Google suggests using third-party solutions to back up information thoroughly. There are quite a few commercial solutions for this purpose, but the H-X Backup product stands out for its complete openness. To achieve the goal, we used free open-source technologies: Linux, rsync, rclone, etc. Therefore, we do not give you a “black box”, but help you build a flexible individual backup system, and quite quickly and easily at that.
The H-X Backup has a high performance. The system allows low-cost hourly synchronization of backups, and for critical files, backups are updated almost in real-time (5 minutes).
The H-X Backup additionally copies the data to Amazon S3 on different continents. The system stores daily and weekly versions of all valuable information with a specified retention period. This period can be quite long (tens of years), due to the low cost of storage on S3 Glacier.
Additionally, the latest versions of files are encrypted and copied to Dropbox, which is automatically synchronized with the computers of one or more business owners or trusted persons.
The H-X Backup also maintains detailed event logs for all file changes, which allows you to track when and who modified or deleted files. This facilitates incident investigation and file recovery.
The H-X Backup system began serving us within a few days after we started building it, and at the same time became part of our Business Continuity Management service.