Sebi seeks vendor to store mammoth Sahara database

The Securities & Exchange Board of India (Sebi) is looking for a server hosting vendor for the mammoth task of providing electronic data storage and web access services for a database of 200 million scanned pages in the high-profile Sahara case.

In this long-running case, the Supreme Court had, in August 2012, asked the Sahara Group to submit all documents and deposit investors' money with Sebi for refund to investors.

Sebi was mandated by the court to examine the documents submitted by Sahara, whose chief Subrata Roy has been in Tihar Jail for over 18 months, to ascertain their genuineness and make refund to investors.

Sebi has been inviting refund applications from investors through various platforms, including newspapers and its own website, and the process of returning investors' money is underway after ascertaining genuineness of their claims.

In connection with this matter, which is being overseen by a retired judge appointed by the Supreme Court, Sebi has generated about 200 million pages of PDF documents and a database created out of them. The total volume of this electronic data, including the PDF files, is 70 terabytes.

In a tender inviting bids for its 'Electronic Data Storage and Web Access Project' with regard to the Sahara case, the regulator said, "Sebi would like to avail the services of any third party server hosting vendor to take over, store and maintain the aforesaid electronic data of 70TB and also to provide the services of web access to the data." The vendor would be required to provide storage facility for 70TB of electronic data, including PDF files comprising of about 200 million pages and also the facility for access to the said electronic data either to the users situated in Sebi headquarters in Mumbai or to any other third party as desired by the regulator.''

The contract will be initially for three years and can be renewed for a further period.

The scope of work also includes making necessary arrangements to take over the electronic data from a third party server, store them in appropriate hardware/software environment, maintain the same and provide access to the said electronic data by establishing cross reference amongst the components of electronic data.

Besides, the job would also include generation of reports/ execution of various queries from the electronic data provided, based on the report criteria/attributes and the format of such reports to be provided by Sebi.

The successful bidder will be required to arrange for migration of the data, including the image files and the meta data and also ensure that the digital storage has safe and adequate back-up measures.

Further, the electronic data would need to be web hosted for remote access by the representatives of Sebi and its authorised agents.

The number of such users at the remote area will be about 15 at present, which may be ramped up in future depending upon the future requirement of Sebi.

The vendor will need to ensure appropriate security features in the software/hardware environment so that Sebi can have full administrator rights and no user can be created without its consent.

There should be an option to enable/disable users through web-user during the development of software. After development of any software by the vendor at the instance of Sebi, the user will be disabled by the regulator and no other person, including the administrator of the vendor, would be in a position to access the data.

Sebi wants the vendor to ensure a minimum of 95 per cent uptime for the hosting services, which means the potential downtime/unavailability of access to the data would be restricted to one day and 12 hours in a month.

Sebi said the software should come with built-in features to enable the application to generate reports based on the database. At the expiration or termination of the contract, the vendor would have to return the data along with the software utilities developed by the vendor exclusively for Sebi during the contract period.

Periodic review of internal controls and systems would be done to avoid unauthorised access of data and the system would have to maintain an audit trail of all relevant events.

Given sensitivity of the case, the vendor's systems, facilities, internal control mechanisms and work would be subject to inspection and audit by Sebi officials, auditors and others authorised by Sebi in that regard.

The bids need to be submitted by 18 December. Sahara had sent trucks full of documents to Sebi after being asked by the Supreme Court to submit all documents related to an estimated three crore investors.

Earlier, Sebi had awarded a contract to Stock Holding Corporation of India Ltd (SHCIL) for jobs including storage, digitisation and scanning of the documents submitted by Sebi.