I was going to write an overview of this session, but this article gives a good summary of it, so I’ll just make a few additional comments. The links to the definitions of cloud computing (NIST and NARA) are particularly clarifying, especially if you happen to be one of the 51% who are not sure exactly what cloud computing is. Much to my disappointment, this session was about using the cloud for digital preservation storage, and did not address the much more tricky topic of working with donors who have materials stored in the cloud. Storing digital objects using cloud-based systems or services is fairly straight-forward; pulling those materials out of the cloud in a reliable, authentic manner is not.
One of the biggest advantages of cloud storage is geographic redundancy of servers - if there’s a disaster in one geographic area, the data is still available via servers in other areas, and/or on local servers. Rather than use cloud storage, we’ll be joining the LOCKSS-based initiative, MetaArchive. More information on MetaArchive will be provided in a future blog posting.
To learn more about records management and cloud computing, I recommend one of the publications referenced in this session, The North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, Division of Archives and Records Best Practices for Cloud Computing: Records Management Considerations (PDF) While some of the considerations listed in the report are only applicable to government entities, there are plenty of others that would be applicable to our donor institutions who have moved or are thinking about moving services to the cloud.