DuraSpace – A Foggy Notion?

Spent an hour or so today participating in a WebEx presentation hosted by Sun, the DSpace Foundation and the Fedora Commons. Billed as “A Collaboration Update” this event basically served to offer an introduction, rationale and development path for DuraSpace (sounds familiar doesn’t it?).

Where to begin?   On some level, I guess the headline of today’s session was:

Trusted Repositories are So Yesterday.  Welcome to the Cloud

I use cloud storage today to store extra backup copies of some of our library websites and other data but I don’t think of it as an overly reliable solution.  At least, not in the sense that it’s the only place my data lives.   That sort of dependability isn’t the IT problem the cloud was created to solve.  If you doubt that, take a look at the Service Level Agreement Amazon offers for their S3 service.   It’s quite specific in some areas but vague when it comes to total data loss:

If availability is impacted by factors other than those used in our calculation of the Error Rate, we may issue a Service Credit considering such factors in our sole discretion.

Sorry, your data’s gone.  But we will give you a credit in case you want to give us some more data.   Comforting, isn’t it?

It’s possible that DuraSpace might eventually morph into something useful:

  • maybe a LOCKSS-inspired dispersal of IR content across multiple cloud-based systems
  • or a cloud-based aggregation of all the world’s repository content under a common set of APIs

but that doesn’t seem to be the current focus.   Instead, there was prominent mention made of “value-add” services that could be performed on the data coming from your site on its way to the cloud.   And I also heard an allusion to the fact that with DuraSpace those sites that have run out of storage or computer power will now have an option for their continued existence.     I didn’t find either  terribly convincing.    I can see that it might be nice to have my data “improved” on it’s way to the cloud but wouldn’t I then want to replicate those improvements on my local copy of the data?  And given today’s pricing, what site running DSpace can’t afford another terabyte drive?

While it may be buzzword-compliant,  I’m afraid at this point DuraSpace sounds like a “let’s try to monitize our involvement in this thing” solution searching for a problem.   Maybe I missed the point.  I hope so.   I also hope that the development of DuraSpace won’t steal too many cycles from those currently working on improving the core software assets of the DSpace and Fedora projects.

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