IT Infrastructure

The following address why understanding your overall IT infrastructure is important to state archives and record managers working to preserve and provide access to electronic records.

IT Architecture: When considering how to move forward on working with, preserving, and providing access to electronic records it is important to understand your organization's IT infrastructure and architecture. In many states the enterprise IT is consolidated (within a larger organization or across all state agencies) in which decisions on what technology can/should be used is done at a high level and for a large contingency. Other agencies may have the independence to choose and implement the technology it chooses. Collaborations between state agencies might also exist. Whichever your situation, it is important to be able to properly address records needs, from the holistic governance standpoint which requires an understanding and interest in the overarching enterprise IT architecture. Doing so can help define proper workflows - workflows that reduce costs by eliminating duplication of efforts and reduce system integration needs over time. Without this, the silos of the data/records that are the result of separate IT implementations by each record creator may create redundancies, inefficiencies and lots of integration cost, and records needs may be put on the back burner. It is also much harder to enforce archival requirements and policies with different system implementations. To help reduce these inefficiencies over time, the archive or records management agency should be aware of the state's IT infrastructure and have a seat at the table when discussing business system acquisitions and implementation to raise awareness of record keeping requirements that should accompany such systems. Another method of involvement is for the records management agency to create its own records architecture within the IT architecture through collaboration which will assist in the long term management of records. An example of IT Architecture is: The Australian Government IT Architecture. The Business Forum Journal provides more information on IT architectures for small and mid-sized organizations.

System Requirements: When thinking about technology choices, it is important to consider the system requirements of a tool and how they will work with or be supported by your current environment. Often when reviewing record management, content management, digital preservation or access systems, organizations get wrapped up and review requirements from the archival industry perspective using the OAIS or other reference models and requirements. While this is critical to satisfy archival requirements, it is just as beneficial to review these systems with the existing enterprise and records architecture in mind. Doing this will asset with a smoother implementation and integration between systems. There must be a match between the tool's operating environment and the archival unit's technical environments. For example:

  • The International Council on Archives' ICA-AtoM (archival description application) and access software meets archival requirements and organizations might find it fits their needs; however, the required environment is based on the Linux-Apache-MySQL-PHP stack. For states with Windows based environments, this tool might not be able to be implemented without an investment in personnel - possibly increasing the overall price of the application. 
  • Some states have reviewed Archivematica and found while the software looks useful, the technical requirements (Linux Ubuntu) do not fit within the states supported IT infrastructure. The use of Archivematica through a Virtual Machine might be possible, however such use has not been proven in a production environment for large volume of records; and how a VM would interface with an access portal also has not been demonstrated.

 In short, it is important to review both the technical (system) and archival requirements to make the best solution (at the time) is identified that works within your IT infrastructure and budget.   

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