Frequently Asked Questions - Open Technologies

Over the years, (institutional) repositories and content management systems (CMS) have seen a great amount of feature overlap. However, both systems remain distinct in their underlying purposes and the needs they fulfill.

Although this is a generalization, repositories and content management systems tend to differ in the following ways:

Content Management Systems (CMS)

  • Generally speaking, a CMS may be thought of as a digital content creation & publication system
  • Geared towards content creation / production and online publication
  • Geared towards collaborative creation/modification of content
  • Geared towards general usage (used for any general digital content)
  • May also be geared towards building websites and creating content for the web

(Institutional) Repositories

  • Generally speaking, a Repository may be thought of as a digital "archives" system
  • Geared towards long-term storage, digital preservation and accessibility of completed content
  • Geared towards ensuring and maintaining provenance of completed or published content
  • Primarily used for scholarly and/or published content (though may be used for general content as well)
  • Tends to also follow latest library/archival best practices (around metadata, preservation, persistent URLs, etc.)

There are scenarios where one may wish to choose either a CMS or a Repository:

Some general benefits of a Content Management System:

  • More conducive to collaborative creation of content/documents
  • Often better for highly dynamic content ("living documents")
  • Often better for building websites (which by nature are rapidly changing / evolving)

Some general benefits of a Repository:

It is worth noting that choosing a CMS or a repository is not necessarily an "either/or" option. Based on your local needs, you may wish to use both systems in your document creation and preservation workflow. For example, a CMS may be used to collaboratively create your digital content. Once the digital content is completed, it may be archived/preserved within a repository. Alternatively, your CMS may wish to pull archived content from an external repository in order to allow for content reuse/remix, or to simply expose your archived content through the same interface as your dynamic/collaborative content. Many popular Content Management Systems provide modules or add-ons that allow them to integrate directly into popular repository platforms.

Some examples of using a Repository with a CMS:

Additional Points of View:

DuraCloud is an independent cloud-based service focused on preservation and access services that are complementary to DSpace and Fedora. DuraCloud is integrated with DSpace and Fedora repositories to provide replication of local content to the cloud. In the future, DSpace and Fedora will most likely be offered as a hosted service within the DuraCloud platform.

For some time there has been interest expressed among DuraSpace communities in having Fedora act as either a robust storage layer or archive layer behind the DSpace application while maintaining the out-of-the-box DSpace experience including workflows, and look and feel. There is work underway than may eventually enable the option to run the DSpace application on top of a Fedora repository. To achieve this requires a series of developments:

  • A way to extract the items from DSpace's current internal store, along with all of their relationships (communities, collections, and Epeople). DuraSpace is currently developing this as a general, roundtripping AIP capability for DSpace.
  • An implementation of the DSpace data model using the Fedora repository. There is prior art (which would need to be updated) for this from 2008 and 2009.
  • A conversion, crosswalking, or import utility for the above two items. There is neither a schedule nor a committment for this yet.
  • Designing an integration of the DSpace business logic, User authentication and authorization with Fedora. This is no schedule or committment for this yet.
  • Porting the DSpace user, administrative, and web services interface applications to run against the resulting environment. There is no schedule or committment for this yet.

Not all of these steps need to be complete for some models of operation involving running DSpace and Fedora as distinct, cooperating applications.

Also see DSpace-Fedora Integration FAQ for a more DSpace-specific Integration FAQ.

DuraCloud is a hosted service and open technology that enables organizations and end users to use cloud services. It is a cloud-based service that leverages existing cloud infrastructure to enable durability and access to digital content. The service is particularly focused on meeting requirements for academic, scientific, and cultural heritage. DuraCloud leaves the basics of pure storage to those who do it best (storage providers) and overlays storage solutions with additional functionality that is essential to ensuring long-term access and ease of use. DuraCloud offers cloud storage, plus replication of content across multiple providers. Once digital content is stored in the cloud, compute services are the key to unlocking its value. DuraCloud provides services that enable digital preservation, data access, transformation, and data sharing. DuraCloud offers customers an elastic capacity with a "pay as you go" approach. It is appropriate for individuals, single institutions, or for multiple organizations that want to make use of cross-institutional infrastructure. DuraCloud has been in a pilot phase during Fall 2009. Plans are to release DuraCloud as a service hosted by the DuraSpace not-for-profit organization in Summer 2011.

Fedora is a robust, modular repository system for the management and dissemination of digital content. It is especially suited for digital libraries and archives, both for access and preservation. It is also used to provide specialized access to very large and complex digital collections of historic and cultural materials as well as scientific data. Fedora's flexibility enables it to integrate gracefully with many types of enterprise and web-based systems, offering scalability (e.g., millions of objects) and durability (e.g., all of the information is maintained in files with no software dependency, from which the complete repository can be rebuilt at any time). It also provides the ability to express rich sets of relationships among digital resources and to query the repository using the semantic web's SPARQL query language. Fedora has a worldwide installed user base that includes academic and cultural heritage organizations, universities, research institutions, university libraries, national libraries, and government agencies.

DSpace is a turnkey institutional repository application. Globally, it is the most widely-used open source repository software with over 1,000 known installations in over 90 countries. Out-of-the-box, DSpace is primarily used for the creation of institutional repositories and open access repositories. DSpace is installed by organizations, especially libraries, as a way to provide access to research output, scholarly publications, library collections, and more. DSpace stores any type of content (text, image, audio, video) and offers built-in workflows for content submission and review. The DSpace application provides many features and tools for managing digital content and enabling digital preservation. Organizations can easily make their digital collections available on the Web using DSpace's customizable end user interfaces along with many community-developed features and utilities.

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