Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Some Assembly Required – Micro-services and Digital Preservation

Some Assembly Required – Micro-services and Digital Preservation. Danielle Spalenka. POWRR Blog. March 22, 2016.   
     Very informative article about how micro services and tools can benefit libraries of all sizes and financial abilities. Many struggle with implementing a digital preservation infrastructure.  University of California created a set of free-standing but inter-operable applications that performed a single or limited number of tasks in the larger curation and preservation process, which they described as a micro-services approach.

This approach, which did not require the installation of a single, long-lived application, can help medium-sized and smaller institutions to identify and achieve digital preservation goals. The set of twelve independent but compatible micro-services performed preservation functions such as identity, storage, fixity, replication, inventory, ingest, index, search, transformation, notification and annotation. These simple utilities would pose fewer challenges in their development, deployment, maintenance and enhancement than a large, integrated system. The strategic combination of individual services could produce “the complex global function needed for effective curation” at large institutions. The Digital POWRR (Preserving Digital Resources with Restricted Resources) Project team begin a study of the problems and possible solutions for preserving digital objects.

Some understood that digital curation and preservation was an either/or issue: either an institution had implemented a digital preservation system or it had not. In reality, the preservation activities are "an ongoing, iterative set of actions, reactions, workflows, and policies." This means institutions can begin taking small steps rather than waiting to devise an ideal solution. The NDSA Levels of Digital Preservation provides a yardstick to measure progress toward a digital curation and preservation capacity. Two fundamental understandings at the heart of a micro-services approach are:
  1. digital curation and preservation is an uncertain process in which continuous, rapid technological change often renders monolithic, integrated applications cumbersome and outdated;
  2. simple tools focused on a specific aspect or aspects of the process can prove more helpful.
Micro-services tools can only be effective if users understand what roles they play in the larger digital preservation process and the path they take through the NDSA Levels. The COPTR (Community Owned Digital Preservation Tool Registry) web site provides information about many helpful tools and services that can provide incremental value.  Micro-services tools can also help those adopting more robust tools.

The use of individual tools performing discrete functions can help those starting preservation activities. The Digital POWRR Project has described the stages of a digital curation and preservation workflow and associated activities. Tools performing these functions are available at the COPTR web site.

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