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How to Migrate QuickBooks to Azure in a Single Afternoon Using Nerdio for Azure Professional

Vadim Vladimirskiy
Vadim VladimirskiyFounder & CEO, Nerdio
0 commentsMay 09, 2019Articles

QuickBooks is one of the most popular applications used by small and mid-size (SMB) businesses.  Although many have adopted QuickBooks Online (a web browser-based version), the desktop version remains extremely popular and is the standard in accounting software for most SMBs.

The desktop version of QuickBooks (QB) is a client/server application with the data stored in a shared network location with the QB client installed on each user’s desktop.  The QB client communicates with the server storing the data (company QBW file) using the Database Manager software installed on the server.  The QB client expects low latency and high throughput to successfully connect to the company file, which requires the QB client and the Database Manager to be on the same Local Area Network (LAN).

Since the QB client and company file are required to be on the same LAN, it is not possible to move the company file to the cloud while running the QB client locally because of performance issues and risk of data corruption.

In this guide, we will show you how to migrate an existing QuickBooks database to Microsoft Azure, and make it accessible to multiple users via published RemoteApp – all by using the intuitive Nerdio for Azure automation platform.

Once deployed, we will analyze the cost implications of running QB in Azure with Nerdio for Azure Professional to fully understand all costs associated with Azure, Office 365, RDS licensing, and Nerdio.  Our target will be $27/user/month (plus the cost of Office 365, if applicable, and RDS licensing).

Assumptions

  1. This will be a pilot deployment to start, meaning that it will be non-disruptive to the existing users and IT environment. Once the pilot is configured and fully tested, it can be simply deployed into production use by copying the latest version of the QB data.
  2. brand-new environment will be created in Azure to host QuickBooks. Once the environment is ready to be placed into production, users can be imported from existing on-premises Active Directory, from Office 365, or created via the Nerdio Admin Portal web interface.
  3. This new environment will be sized for up to 15 users using QuickBooks Pro, Office 365, sharing files, and doing some light web browsing. The Azure deployment will be set up to use QB as a RemoteApp or to publish a complete virtual desktop to users.
  4. We will be using Nerdio for Azure Professional to automatically build out an Azure environment prior to installing QB.
    1. The alternative is to read lots of documentation, learn a ton of PowerShell scripting, and spend days building everything by hand.

Prerequisites

You will need the following before you get started:

  1. QuickBooks license and product numbers
    • We will be doing a fresh QB install and then copying the company file to Azure. These numbers can be found in Help>About of the current QB installation.
    • You can download QB here and detailed installation instructions can be found here.
  2. Office 365 account with at least 1 unassigned E3 license
    1. The E3 license is needed for deployment and testing. You can remove the license later and QB will continue working.
  3. Azure subscription
    • This subscription can be within the same Azure AD tenant as the Office 365 account (e.g. business.onmicrosoft.com) or in a separate Azure AD tenant.
    • The subscription must have at least 13 BS-series cores available. Some basic Azure subscriptions may not meet this requirement out of the box, but you can verify this in the Azure Portal under Subscriptions>Usage and Quotas and Request Increase by clicking the button, if needed.
    • It is recommended that you use the Request Increase button and ask for 20 BS-series cores in the Azure subscription, just in case.
  4. Admin user accounts with global administrator access to Office 365 and owner role on the Azure subscription.
  5. Nerdio account
    1. If you don’t have a Nerdio account, you can sign up for a free 30-day trial (no credit card required).

The Process

  1. Deploy an NFA Professional (P15) account into your Office 365 and Azure subscription
  2. Increase the VM size of FS01 to 2 CPUs and 4GB of RAM (B2s)
  3. Reset password on Andy IT Admin demo user
  4. Download and install QuickBooks Manager on FS01
  5. Copy QuickBooks company file to FS01
  6. Install QuickBooks client on RDSH01
  7. Publish RemoteApp to Angie Accounting demo user

The result will be a brand-new Azure environment with an Active Directory Domain Controller integrated with your Azure AD, a File Server, and an RDS session host with QuickBooks installed and ready to go.  You will also have 4 demo user accounts that you can use to test the new environment or create new users as you see fit.

Step 1: Deploy a Nerdio for Azure Professional (P15) account

(estimated running time: 3 hours)

  1. Log into the Nerdio Admin Portal
  2. Click Add NFA account button on bottom right


    migrating to quickbooks1


  3. Section 1: Connect to Azure using a global administrator account
    • Select your Subscription and the Region you want to deploy into
    • Specify Resource Group name (optional)
  1. Section 2: Connect to Office 365 using a global administrator account
  2. Section 3: Specify Company name
    • Select Professional from the Plan dropdown
    • Select P15 (up to 15 users) radio button
  1. Click Save and OK to proceed.

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  1. You will now see the account being provisioned. The status will change from PROVISIONING to ACTIVE once the process is complete.

    migrating to quickbooks3

 

Step 2: Increase the VM size of FS01 to 2 CPUs and 4GB of RAM

(estimated time: 5 minutes)

FS01 will be used to store the QB database (company file).  The QB Database Manager needs a bit more RAM than is provisioned by default for the FS01 virtual machine.  We will grow the size of the FS01 VM to have 4GB of RAM and 2 CPUs.

  1. Once the NFA Core account is provisioned, click Login to the right of the account name.


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  2. Click on Server on the left and then resize FS01.


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  3. Select B2s from dropdown and click Confirm.


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  4. The resize operation will take a few minutes to complete. You can track the status in the Server Management Tasks section at the bottom of the page.

Step 3: Reset password on Andy IT Admin demo user

(estimated time: 5 minutes)

Andy IT Admin is a special account that has local administrator privileges on the servers where QuickBooks will be installed.  We will use this account to log into FS01 and install the QB Database Manager and then log into RDSH01 to install the QB client.

  1. Click on Users on the left and select Reset password from the action menu next to Andy IT Admin.


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  2. Click Generate link to generate a random password or type in your own that complies with the complexity requirements and click Confirm. Make a note of the password or email it to yourself on the next screen.


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  3. The password reset operation will take a couple of minutes to complete. You can track the status in the User Management Tasks section at the bottom of the page.

Step 4: Download and install QuickBooks Manager on FS01

(estimated time: 20 minutes)

We will RDP into FS01 and download QB from Intuit and then install the QB Database Manager.  In our example, we will use an older version of QuickBooks (2015) to illustrate that even legacy software can be deployed in Azure.

  1. Click on Servers, then click on Generate RDP file next to Click Download button to download the RDP file.


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  2. Open the downloaded rdp file and type in aitadmin@XXXX.nerdio.net and the password you reset in the previous step. XXXX is the Nerdio Account ID – the 4-digit number in the server name.


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  3. Open Internet Explorer, go to Internet Options>Security>Custom level>Downloads>File download>Enable, and allow file downloads by clicking OK twice.
  4. Browse to QuickBooks download page and follow the download instructions.
  5. QB installer should launch automatically. Follow the instructions to perform a “Custom and Network options” installation of QuickBooks.  No product or license number should be required for this type of installation.
    • Select “I will NOT be using QuickBooks on this computer. I will be storing our company file here so it can be shared over our network.” option during the installation.
  6. The downloaded installer will appear on the DesktopCopy it to E:\PUBLIC to be used for installation on RDSH01 in step 6.
  7. Sign out of FS01.

Step 5: Copy QuickBooks company file to FS01

(estimated time: depends on file size)

You can use any file transfer method to copy the QBW file from the source computer to FS01.  The easiest way to do this is to use OneDrive to upload the file from the source computer and then download it on FS01.  Be sure to close QuickBooks on the source computer before starting the upload.

Once the QBW file is uploaded to OneDrive, log into OneDrive web interface on FS01 and download the file to E:\PUBLIC.  This is a preconfigured share that is accessible to all users.  You may want to create a sub-folder in PUBLIC and restrict access to only certain users.

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Step 6: Install and Update QuickBooks on RDSH01

(estimated time: 15-30 minutes)

We will RDP into RDSH01 and install QuickBooks from \\FS01\PUBLIC where we saved it.

  1. Click on Servers, then click on Generate RDP file next to Click the Download button to download the RDP file.


    migrating to quickbooks12

  2. Open the downloaded rdp file and type in aitadmin@XXXX.nerdio.net and the password you reset in step 3. XXXX is the Nerdio Account ID – the 4 digit number in the server name.


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  3. Open Windows Explorer and browse to \\FS01\PUBLIC.


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  4. Launch QB installer and follow the instructions to perform a “Custom and Network options” installation of QuickBooks.
    • Select “I’ll be using QuickBooks on this computer” option and click Next
    • Enter the Product and License Number and complete the installation
  5. Once the installation completes, open Quickbooks and go through the QuickBooks Desktop Activation process.
  6. Update QuickBooks by going to Help>Update QuickBooks. This process may take some time.
  7. In QuickBooks, select Open or restore an existing company and browse to \\FS01\PUBLIC\QB Data to open the transferred company file (QBW).
  8. Once the company file opens successfully, close QuickBooks and Sign out from RDSH01.

Step 7: Publish RemoteApp to Angie Accounting demo user

(estimated time: 5 minutes)

  1. Click on Users on the left and select Generate RDP file from the action menu next to Angie Accounting user.


    migrating to quickbooks15

  2. In the Select User’s Remote Desktop Experience section, select RemoteApp (select application) and choose QuickBooks from the list. Click Confirm to download the RDP file.


    migrating to quickbooks16

 

  1. Open the downloaded “QuickBooks Pro 2015 (Angie).RDP” file and type in Angie Accounting’s password. Default password is AwesomeNerdioXXXXwhere XXXX is the Nerdio Account ID that we used in a previous step.  You can also reset the Angie Accounting user password just like you did for Andy IT Admin in Step 3.

Conclusion and Cost Analysis

You have just completed a full deployment of an RDS environment in Azure, installed QuickBooks, transferred the company file, published QB as a RemoteApp, and tested connectivity.  Hopefully, you found the experience to be straightforward, automated, and fast as compared to spending countless hours studying documentation, learning PowerShell commands and RDS, and going through significant trial-and-error trying to stand up an Azure environment for QuickBooks.

Now, the big question is: what will this Azure IT environment cost you as the MSP?  Fortunately, the Nerdio Cost Estimator can answer that question for you very easily.

 

You are going to need four components to properly license this Azure deployment:

  1. Azure subscription – Consider purchasing Azure through your CSP Provider, as you will receive a discount on consumption. You should also consider using Azure Reserved Instances to lower your costs once the environment is in production.
  2. Office 365 – if you’re planning to use the Office suite together with QuickBooks on the virtual desktop (e.g. Excel), you will need to license it via Office 365. If you’ll be using QB as a standalone application, then you do not need an Office 365 license.
  3. RDS license – to run Remote Desktop Services (RDS) in Azure, you need to obtain an RDS license either through a SPLA agreement or through your CSP Provider using CSP Software Subscriptions.
  4. Nerdio – Nerdio for Azure Professional is the automation product that helps you price the QB environment in Azure, automatically deploy it, auto-scale it for optimal Azure consumption, and provide you with a management interface to manage all aspects of the Azure environment.

 

Let’s go through a pricing exercise to determine the cost of the environment you just created.

  1. Log into Nerdio Admin Portal (https://app.nerdio.net).
  2. On the left, select Billing, then select DaaS as the use case on the right.

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  3. In Section 2: Let’s start with desktop information
    • Type 15 in “About how many users overall will use Nerdio desktops?” (assuming that this environment will have about 15 users).

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  1. In Section 3: Office 365 and RDS, we will assume that the customer already owns Office 365 and RDS licenses and will leave the values as their defaults.

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  2. In Section 4: Other Features
  • Set In-region backup to Yes
  • Set Site-to-site VPN to Yes if there are network printers in use

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  1. In Section 5: Cost Assumptions
  • Set Azure CSP discount and Azure CSP discount for RI to the values provided by your CSP Provider. The Azure CSP discount is typically under 10% and the Azure CSP discount for RI is typically around 1% or 2%.  If you don’t know the exact value, leave the defaults in place or replace them with 0% to get the worst-case scenario.
  • Select the Azure region where you deployed the QuickBooks environment

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  1. Click View costs button on the bottom right to see a full analysis of costs and a per-user cost of $27.

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Migrating an existing QuickBooks database to Microsoft Azure and making it accessible to multiple users via published RemoteApp is easy with the Nerdio for Azure automation platform.

Want this guide in a handy PDF format for you to read at your leisure? Here you go! How to Migrate to Quickbooks to Azure in a Single Afternoon with NFA

If you’d like to see more functionalities of Nerdio for Azure, contact us today!

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