A virtual data room should provide 24/7 availability. Important transactions such as M&As and IPOs operate according to strict timetables, and delays can result in major problems and added expense for the parties involved. Any respectable virtual data room platform has to be designed to accommodate the fact that deals are done around the world and around the clock. . This means high availability is crucial, and asking the right questions when choosing a VDR service provider is key to ensuring that you get it.
What is High Availability?
High availability. Sounds good, doesn’t it? It sounds professional and efficient, and all the words you’d use to describe a quality service from a top-performing technology provider. And that’s exactly what it means: in the IT environment high availability refers to the almost-continuous availability of services. In many organizations, a highly available system or service must be usable 99% of the time, while others require 99.99% or 99.999% in some cases. This plays a vital role in facilitating the due diligence for a deal, as well as giving you peace of mind that your data is secure at all times.
Here are 8 ways in which a virtual data room provider ensures high availability for clients:
#1: Media Backups
The VDR provider implements backups to tape or another medium and ensures that the backups are reliable. All these backups must be encrypted in order to protect the data and it's storage should be under strictly security protocols.
#2: Daily Verification of Backups
Having a backup is only of value if the data is usable, so daily checks are needed to verify this. The data room makes use of an email notification system to inform administrators of the status of the backups.
#3: Regular Verification of File Histories
Ensuring that file history can be recovered is essential in case of a dispute. The verification procedure takes time to run and uses substantial CPU resources, however, which can impact the VDR’s clients trying to access the system. By using a redundant system (or an available disaster recovery system) specifically to perform the verification, the provider can minimize the impact on server performance and the effect on users.
#4: Preparation for Hardware Failures
These can occur at any time, and no hardware is immune to problems. What matters is how quickly the data room is able to respond and re-establish availability. Ask your VDR provider what hardware will replace the primary machine in the event of an outage that can’t be repaired quickly.
#5: Minimum Downtime for Backups
With 24/7 accessibility, you can’t afford to have your VDR down for backups. The service provider should plan regular backups that minimize the impact to users.
#6: Hardware Redundancy
The VDR provider should have a minimum of two identical server machines. One is designated as a primary machine, while the others are disaster recovery systems.
#7: Load Balancing or Failover System
This is a backup operational mode that transfers the data room’s functions to the second system if the primary system is down for any reason. The various parts can connect interchangeably using “any-to-any” technology, which means the data is always available—regardless of what system it’s running on. A perfect Load Balancer confuguration will allow to make the switching between the machines without any notice by the users.
This is a new feature of high availability servers that enables two or more complete copies of each database to exist, synchronized by “AlwaysOn” technology. This eliminates the need for installing additional storage area networks in the data room infrastructure.
The last thing you need during a high-profile deal is system downtime. Protect yourself from this by making sure you choose a virtual data room that offers high availability, and ask questions that establish the service provider’s knowledge and experience before signing any agreements.