Is it Necessary to Trade Control for Functionality to Manage and Preserve Content in the Cloud?
Submitted by on Wed, 2012-02-08 16:01
Ithaca, NY A recent National Digital Stewardship Alliance (NDSA) survey  highlighted members'  digtal asset storage practices. NDSA members include 98 libraries, archives, museums and other organizations committed to keeping digital information accessible over time. Through this survey  the NDSA Infrastructure Working Group explored content storage, including cloud options, with NDSA members.
Using “the cloud” as a part of organizations’ digital preservation strategies does appear on many NDSA members’ radar. About 49% of respondents were not planning on using third-party storage service providers at the time of the survey (Aug.-Nov. 2011) partially because respondents did not think that key required features were available.
The DuraCloud open source platform and managed service offered by DuraSpace addresses some of these limitations with going directly to third party cloud providers. DuraCloud (http://duracloud.org/) is a managed cloud service from DuraSpace that makes it easy to move copies of content into the cloud and store them at several different cloud providers. DuraCloud offers fixity checking at the time of ingest and at regular intervals while being stored. DuraCloud features sync with what organizations report are of value: “fixity checking, automated tasks and migration services.”
The top three priorities for what respondents wanted in new preservation storage systems are in line with what DuraCloud currently offers. Providing these options in DuraCloud gives users the ability to be in control of their content while at the same time taking advantage of cloud economies of scale and reduction of on-site hardware and software costs.
“More built in functions (like fixity checking)” 
• DuraCloud securely stores assets and and performs periodic content “health checks” assuring information is being preserved as it should be.
“More Automated inventory, retrieval and management services” 
• DuraCloud customers can use one or all of the cloud storage providers and still manage all of the content from one web interface keeping costs down, content preserved and accessibility guaranteed.
“More Storage” 
• With DuraCloud additional flexible and scalable storage is offered instantly as a service.
In addition DuraCloud storage providers adhere to the safe harbor framework (https://safeharbor.export.gov/).
The NDSA Infrastructure Survey points to the need for more information about how to use the cloud for preservation and archiving of digital content. Responses indicated that the dual desire for control and functionality would seem to require giving up one to have the other. DuraCloud is one solution that provides both with ongoing improvements to functionality, security and flexibility in the cloud.
Find out for yourself by applying for a FREE 2-month DuraCloud trial account here: http://www.duracloud.org/content/trial-account-request. For a recent overview of DuraCloud, a demonstration of its use, and a closer look at how it works please visit ASERL’s (Association of Southeastern Research Libraries) recent DuraCloud informational web seminar here: http://vimeo.com/36039748.
1 The NDSA Infrastructure Survey, conducted between August 2011 and November 2011, received responses from 58 members of the 74 NDSA member organizations who are preserving digital content. This represents a 78% response rate. The goal of this survey was to get a snapshot of current storage practices within the organizations of the National Digital Stewardship Alliance.
3 Read an analysis of the NDSA Infrastructure Survey by Jefferson Bailey, “Partly Cloudy: Trends in Distributed and Remote Preservation Storage–More Results from the NDSA Storage Survey” on the LOC Signal Blog: http://blogs.loc.gov/digitalpreservation/2012/01/partly-cloudy-trends-in-distributed-and-remote-preservation-storage-more-results-from-the-ndsa-storage-survey/