September 2015 Report

September 29, 2015

It has been an active spring and summer for the Academic Preservation Trust, and, as we approach the fall meeting, we are seeing signs of institutions beginning to deposit digital content at scale.  Here, intended as updates in advance of our October meeting, are highlights from recent months and news about upcoming ones:

  • New Member-Engagement Model
    • The previously existing advisory groups on technology and on content and certification proposed revamping APTrust’s model of engagement with its member community, and that proposal was approved by the Governing Board in September.   The two former groups will migrate into a single APTrust Advisory Committee, with a member and an alternate appointed annually by the dean of each sustaining-member institution.
    • In order to widen possibilities for interested persons at institutions to become involved, APTrust will adopt a work groups and interests groups format that will be open to all who volunteer.
  • Deposit Agreement Finalized
    • Under development since January, the APTrust Sustaining Member Deposit Agreement now outlines in some detail the conditions of deposit so that depositors and the APTrust clearly understand what is expected of each other.  The absence of such a formal agreement has been cited by some institutions as an impediment to them putting content in APTrust.
    • The agreement will be reviewed by each depositing institution for signature as it begins depositing material.
  • Several Institutions Begin Large-Scale Deposits
    • Although the University of Cincinnati solely occupied the category of pioneer depositor in the new production environment of APTrust last December for months, an assortment of other institutions are depositing content nearing or exceeding the volume (10 TB) included in their initial allotments.
  • Upcoming Presentations
    • Member representatives and APTrust staff will be describing APTrust in presentations at the October meetings of the Digital Library Federation in Vancouver and EDUCAUSE in Indianapolis, and many will be attending the iPres meeting in Chapel Hill in early November.
  • Explorations of New Services and Collaborations
    • APTrust staff have been serving as scouts for collaborations with compatible organizations and for potential new services that may offer value for the APTrust constituencies.  Members will explore these possibilities at the October meeting of the APTrust in Washington, DC.
      • The Internet Archive will talk with participants about alignment of mission with APTrust and about possibilities for collaboration, both with digital preservation and with access to content.
      • The Center for Open Science will also talk with us about our mutual mission alignment and ways that we can work together to preserve scientific research.
    • The staff also initiated conversations with Oracle about its new cloud-based archival storage services.  Although Oracle, as a vendor, is not being invited to the fall meeting under our rules for such meetings, we will provide some initial information to our members to gauge interest in further discussions with Oracle.
  • Business Notes
    • In late summer, APTrust moved from buying Amazon Web Services through DuraSpace to buying them via the new Internet2 Net+ contract, which uses DLT as the billing intermediary.  The Internet2 contract had been in the works for some time, and APTrust had volunteered to be an early user of the new offering.
      • One of the significant advantages to the new contract is a means by which APTrust can qualify for exemption from AWS’s “data-egress” charges.  The main factor in that exemption will be that nearly all of our data-egress traffic needs to move within Internet2.
      • Although we do not anticipate a significant volume of APTrust data-egress except in restoration of content for our members, this will be a significant cost-savings in such situations.
      • It will, however, result in a significant cost-savings for the APTrust-ingested content that is bound for DPN.  When we ingest content for DPN, we then replicate it to two other DPN nodes.  As long as we can move the data to those nodes via Internet2, we qualify for the savings.   As those costs are part of the cost-basis that is spread across DPN’s depositors, all will benefit from the reduced costs at the APTrust node.
    • Very recently, Amazon announced a reduction in prices for many of the AWS offerings that APTrust uses.  We are still evaluating those reductions and will report about them further at the October meeting, but it is clear that APTrust’s complete set of existing services will cost less, and that will benefit APTrust depositors and DPN’s depositors as well.
  • The Digital Preservation Network (DPN) Moves Toward Its Debut
    • DPN is approaching the debut of its services in early 2016, and APTrust staff have been busy helping with technical development, as well as helping with clarification of the challenges that DPN is intended to uniquely address.
      • APTrust lead developer Andrew Diamond has played a critical role in ensuring DPN’s ongoing technical progress.  He has written new code and coordinated the transition of some code to different languages and tools that better suit the diverse array of technologies the various DPN nodes are using.  In the midst of that work, he has been developing the means by which APTrust-ingested content can move into DPN, should our depositors wish it.  Andrew’s work in behalf of the core DPN project is covered by funding provided to APTrust by DPN.
      • I have worked closely with the other DPN node managers (from Stanford, DuraCloud/Chronopolis, Hathi Trust, and the Texas Digital Library) and other interested folks to help the DPN central staff clarify matters that caused some observers to question DPN’s mission and differentiation from the services of the individual nodes.
        • After several conference-call discussions and conversations at such spring meetings as CNI and Open Repositories, James Hilton called us together in Chicago in July to grapple head-on with the questions.
        • We agreed on the components of differentiation that make DPN unique in the preservation ecosystem (the following words are mine; DPN staff will have better ones):
          • DPN is unique in the wide range of technologies and locations over which its content will be distributed.
          • DPN is founded on a concept of long-term preservation for which the smallest increment is 20 years.
          • DPN is a dark archive that anticipates a potential long-term-future need to make individual items of content accessible when other means of access have been lost to the scholarly community.  It provides for this explicitly with practical legal agreements that address this need in terms that many institutions can endorse today.
        • Mary Molinaro of the University of Kentucky will join us at the October meeting to discuss these notions further, anticipating her transition to joining DPN full-time as the services manager and senior operating officer later in October.
  • New Hire for APTrust
    • With Andrew Diamond taking the role as lead developer for APTrust, the position formerly held by Scott Turnbull was available for recasting into a form that would be most valuable for the current stage of APTrust’s maturation.  As a result, we advertised and hired for a new role of systems administrator and developer.
      • We are pleased to welcome Christian Dahlhausen into that role, with his first day of work being the first day of our October meeting in Washington.

— Chip German