About two years ago I wrote a blog post wondering if we could outsource the preservation of digital bits. What prompted that blog post was an announcement from Iron Mountain of a Cloud-Based File Archiving service. Since then there have been a number of other services that have sprung up that are more attuned to the needs of cultural heritage communities (DuraCloud and Chronopolis come to mind), but I have wondered if the commercial sector had a way to do this cheaply and efficiently. The answer to that question is “maybe not” as Iron Mountain has told Gartner Group (PDF archive) that it is closing its services and its Archive Service Platform.
Two entries on big data lead this week’s edition of DLTJ Thursday Threads. The first is at the grandest scale possible: a calculation of the amount of information in the world. Add up all the digital memory (in cell phones, computers, and other devices) and analog media (for instance, paper) and it goes to a very big number. The authors try to put it in perspective, which for me brought home how insignificant my line of work can be. (All of our information is still less than 1% of what is encoded in the human DNA?) The second “big data” entry describes an effort to make sense of huge amounts of data in the National Archives through the use of visualization tools. Rounding out this week is a warning to those who run public computers — be on the look-out for key loggers that can be used to steal information from users.
A last-minute change to my plans for ALA Midwinter came on Tuesday when I was sought out to fill in for a speaker than canceled at the ALCTS Digital Preservation Interest Group meeting. Options for outsourcing storage and services for preserving digital content has been a recent interest, so I volunteered to combine two earlier DLTJ blog posts with some new information and present it to the group for feedback. The reaction was great, and here is the promised slide deck, links to further information, and some thoughts from the audience response.
A colleague forwarded an article from The Register with news of a new service from Iron Mountain for Cloud-Based File Archiving. It is billed as a “storage archiving service designed to help companies reduce costs of storing and managing static data files.” My place of work is facing an increasing need large-scale digital preservation storage with the acquisition of a large collection of music and the conversion of our educational videos from physical DVD preservation to digital preservation. We’re talking terabytes of content that is we need to keep in its archival form — uncompressed, high quality media files (not the lower quality, derivatives for day-to-day access). It doesn’t make sense to keep that on expensive SAN storage, of course, so this article struck me at just the right time to consider alternatives.