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Datasite Gives Customers a Competitive Edge with MongoDB Atlas

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INDUSTRY

Software & Technology
Financial Services

PRODUCT

MongoDB Atlas

USE CASE

Content management

CUSTOMER SINCE

2015
INTRODUCTION

The place where deals are made

Datasite has been making mergers and acquisitions (M&A) easier for businesses across all industries since 2002, although the company itself was founded in 1968. Today, it offers digital software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions to support the entire M&A lifecycle, empowering dealmakers to work smarter and faster, while also giving them a competitive edge. Datasite knew that the arduous and time-consuming M&A deal process was ripe for digitization, and saw an opportunity to revolutionize the market with virtual data rooms and beyond.

“Previously, when a deal was being made, one side would put all their documents into a room for the other side to manually come in and review,” explained Michael Myrland, director of technology enablement at Datasite. “We support customers of all sizes, but typical mergers and acquisitions deals require the review of between a couple of hundred thousand to half a million documents.”

Datasite provides transaction and document management solutions for customers in more than 180 countries. While Datasite has customers across all industries, its solutions are heavily used by investment banks, corporate development, private equity, and law firms, including 74 of the top 100 global legal firms and all top 20 global financial advisory firms.

Since 2020, more than 1.4 million users have logged into Datasite’s platform and applications, and the company facilitated 25% of the top 100 global deals in 2022. The company is currently expanding its investment in AI to optimize and enhance its solutions, and defining areas where this technology will have the biggest impact for customers.

THE CHALLENGE

Outgrowing the relational database

Virtual data rooms enable customers to upload documents, index them, and build out folder structures that make them easier to work with. Crucially, they can also control access, keeping sensitive data secure while speeding up the process of mergers and acquisitions.

These digital spaces were just one part of Datasite’s transition from physical meetings and paper to a fully digital enterprise. To expand its scope and offering, Datasite needed its technology to be scalable and agile. It decided to migrate from its relational database to a non-relational document management platform that supported the JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) and Binary JSON formats its developers are familiar with — MongoDB’s JSON-like document data model gives developers the flexibility to work with the languages and tools they prefer to use.

“We chose MongoDB because it puts our engineers in control. The people making decisions on how data is used can also decide on the data schema and indexing.”

Michael Myrland, director of technology enablement, Datasite

“Relational databases are great for supporting transactions, but that’s not how our business operates,” said Myrland. “That type of database also typically needs a team of admins to monitor indexes and build stored procedures, but the way our teams were set up meant engineers were making decisions on the service layer and then having to communicate them to the database admins to implement.”

This fragmented developer experience was slow and frustrating, and hindered innovation and productivity. Datasite needed a flexible and scalable developer data platform that could be easily managed directly by its engineers, putting the power into the hands of the people who best understood the company’s data requirements.

“We have ambitions to build new offerings that will use AI and machine learning to recognize, lock, encrypt, and send data for review, for example,” commented Myrland. “We want to take a process that takes three months and cut it down to a week. That requires a solution that’s resilient, high performing, and can process a large volume of documents incredibly quickly.”

THE SOLUTION

Empowering engineers with an intuitive solution

In 2016, Datasite implemented MongoDB Enterprise Advanced as its primary document store, and later migrated to MongoDB Atlas on Microsoft Azure in 2019. The solution provides greater scalability, reliability, and ease of management versus than older versions of MongoDB, which means users are now empowered users to set up, operate, and scale the database in just a few clicks.

“MongoDB lets our engineers control how data is used, including the data schema and indexing of data,” said Myrland.

The company’ s biggest migration challenge turned out to be cultural rather than technical; shifting ownership of the platform to engineers and scaling back to a few database administrators. By outsourcing platform management to MongoDB, engineers were quick to adapt to their new role and now love the solution.

“MongoDB stores data in a way that’s totally intuitive to engineers, which helps them move much faster. It’s ergonomic to how they think about data. MongoDB gives us increased velocity and a competitive edge.”

Michael Myrland, director of technology enablement, Datasite

MongoDB Atlas supports all Datasite applications, but one of the most popular capabilities the team built into the virtual data room is a function called ‘Trackers’. This is a digital spreadsheet with a huge amount of functionality built in to help users relate relevant documents to each other.

“We can do row-by-row data access, we can clone, we can import via AI, all of which vastly reduces manual entry,” Myrland commented. “Powered by MongoDB, the feature has been well-received by our customers.”

In the future, Datasite is considering using MongoDB Atlas Search to empower dealmakers to be smarter and faster when looking for relevant documents. Currently, they use a third-party text-based search to find pre-processed versions of documents, but this can be handled more efficiently in Atlas.

The company is also looking at using Atlas Online Archive to store data that customers don’t need to access as frequently, and plans to explore how it can benefit from Atlas Vector Search.

THE RESULTS

Speeding up mergers and acquisitions

With MongoDB Atlas, Datasite can give its users a faster, more seamless experience. “Customers can interact with their data as quickly as they want to. Most queries complete in less than 50 milliseconds,” said Myrland. “Our engineers can also innovate at a much faster pace, so customers are getting new features and functionality more regularly.”

That’s partly due to the Atlas’ managed service, which frees up engineers to spend more time on development. Since Atlas is a comprehensive developer data platform that comes with all the tools they need in one place, much of the technical debt teams were facing has been eliminated.

This agility has helped the company to effectively rewrite its platform three times since 2019, with the latest refresh taking just nine months. Deploying capabilities to production independently — compared to their previous all-or-nothing approach — means Datasite has a much more resilient CI/CD pipeline and can vastly accelerate the delivery of new functionality. That faster development is a contributing factor to the company’s year-on-year increase in profitability.

“Moving to MongoDB has been great. We’ve got great support and Atlas has the features we need as a global company. Data replication is really important — high availability is critical, and it’s well supported within the Atlas infrastructure,” added Myrland.

With MongoDB Atlas at its foundation, Datasite continues to be the go-to destination for managing mergers and acquisitions. To align with the company’s vision to expand their use of AI, Myrland is planning to research the MongoDB AI Innovators Program to learn how it might help Datasite to develop even more cutting-edge solutions for its customers.

“With MongoDB’s power and flexibility, the possibilities of how to use it are endless,” Myrland said. “And we’ve instituted a great governance model to ensure we are using it in the best way for our business.”

“We’re always thinking about what’s next, and with this document model we have the capacity to go ten times faster in the future.”

Michael Myrland, director of technology enablement, Datasite

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