Bringing Light to the "Digital Dark Age" - Preserving Digital Information for the Long Term (2012)

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Publish Date: 
Monday, April 2, 2012
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Abstract: 

Many organizations are facing the serious challenge of economically preserving and retaining access to a wide variety of digital content for dozens of years. Long-term digital information is vulnerable to issues that do not exist in a short-term or paper world, such as media and format obsolescence, bit-rot, and loss of metadata. Ironically, as the world becomes digital, we may be entering a "Digital Dark Age" in which business, public and personal assets are in ever greater danger of being lost. The SNIA Long Term Retention (LTR) Technical Working Group works with key stakeholders in the preservation field to develop a logical container definition called the Self-contained Information Retention Format (SIRF) that will enable applications to interpret stored data, independent of the application that originally created it. SIRF leads to easier and more efficient processes that address threats to the digital content at a lower level of the system stack and can be performed close to the data using more robust, efficient, and automatic methods. Easier, more efficient preservation processes in turn lead to more scalable and less costly preservation of digital content.

SIRF will be examined in a new European Union integrated research project, called ENSURE – Enabling kNowledge, Sustainability, Usability and Recovery for Economic Value. An overview of ENSURE will be provided, along with a review of a case study* from another presentation @ SNW. The presentation will cover use cases, requirements, and the proposed architecture for SIRF as well as its potential usage in ENSURE storage services and another case study*. * A separate Case Study presentation will be proposed for the Data Management Track under the Long-Term Retention area.

Learning Objectives

Recognize the challenges in the long-term preservation of digital information, and understand why best practices and optimal solutions must address different levels of available time, money and effort.
Identify the need, use cases, requirements, and proposed architecture of SIRF. Also, review the latest activities in SNIA LTR technical working group and the development of SIRF.
Discuss the usage of SIRF in the ENSURE cloud infrastructure, which draws on actual commercial use cases from health care, clinical trials, and financial services, and also reference a case study* from another SNW presentation.