With the rise in cloud services and storage, archivists are asking whether this can help address a growing digital preservation challenge. I am leading a team of myself (from Charles Beagrie Ltd), Paul Miller (from Cloud of Data), and Andrew Charlesworth (Senior Lecturer in IT Law, University of Bristol), which is funded by The National Archives, to address questions that archivists have raised about digital preservation and the cloud.
Archivists have understandable reservations around aspects of outsourcing to the cloud and whether it will meet their preservation needs. Some of the most common questions raised (but not an exhaustive list!), are:
- What do you do when your cloud provider fails? From the perspective of a long-term memory institution, how can an archive prepare for and manage sudden and catastrophic denial of access in the cloud such as bankruptcy, closure by financial regulators or by legal authorities? Such occurrences may be rare but will inevitably happen if you have to think in the long-term timeframe of an archive.
- How do we ensure any legal requirements and obligations relating to third party rights in the data to be stored (e.g. copyright, data protection) will be met? These may be placed upon us and our parent organisations by donors and funders via contracts and agreements or via legislation by Government.
- What level of data security can be provided? Will data be stored in the UK, within the European Economic Area, or elsewhere?
- What will it cost and how can you make a business case for it? Can it help us work in partnership to make digital preservation affordable? Are there other archives like us doing this and what experiences have they had?