MetaArchive Explores Next-Generation Digital Preservation Solutions

February 1, 2022

The MetaArchive Cooperative has begun a multi-phase research and development project to create a modern distributed digital preservation system. The primary goal is to leverage technical infrastructure advancements in the commercial sector to simplify digital preservation systems and make them more sustainable. These advancements include software defined storage, self-healing file systems, and functions-as-a-service. MetaArchive Technical Committee co-chair Nathan Tallman recently had a journal article published that explores these concepts further.

MetaArchive is partnering with Keeper Technology (KeeperTech) on this project. KeeperTech, based in Virginia, has deep expertise in building modern, secure, and integral data storage and processing solutions for corporations and government agencies. This multi-phase project has exit ramps for either partner at the conclusion of each phase, when specific proposals for the next phase will be developed and approved.

Phase 1 of this project, estimated to take between 2-3 months, will be a collaborative exploration and definition of functional requirements for a distributed digital preservation system. Phase 2 will build on these requirements with KeeperTech developing a prototype system. Phase 3 will consider options for production deployment and implementation alongside LOCKSS, long used by MetaArchive to achieve bit-level digital preservation. All three phases will occur alongside the day-to-day operations and maintenance on the MetaArchive network.

MetaArchive and KeeperTech kicked off Phase 1 in earnest in January 2022. Community Facilitator Hannah Wang and Technical Committee co-chair Nathan Tallman have recently met with the KeeperTech team to share demonstrations of LOCKSS and Conspectus (MetaArchive’s tool for creating archival units in LOCKSS). Bonnie Gordon, from MetaArchive member Rockefeller Archive Center, also presented Archivematica and discussed digital preservation workflows. Soon, KeeperTech will engage the Cooperative with a questionnaire and focus groups to identify current functional requirements of the community. MetaArchive has already provided several inputs into this process to KeeperTech including prioritized, ranked, and justified criteria for digital preservation storage using the Digital Preservation Storage Criteria; a SWOT analysis of LOCKSS; and OSSArcFlow workflow analysis diagrams.

MetaArchive is excited to engage in this important work to advance the digital preservation community. Functional requirements and software code from the project will be openly-licensed and shared with the community for feedback at the end of each phase. We look forward to being able to share the first outputs.