Australia's national archives prepares to go digital

With the unenviable responsibility for housing potentially petabytes of government information that's both public and 'private', the National Archives of Australia (NAA) in Canberra is set to launch its digital archiving service on new infrastructure.

Lola McKinnon, acting director of the National Archives' digital records projects and operations, said the rate of creation of digital information has spurred a set of "e-permanence" products and guidelines, which is the framework for developing the e-records management system and maintaining it.

"Digital records are subject to the same constraint as paper, which may be made available to the public," McKinnon told Computerworld. "But most records are kept 'private' for 30 years, which makes managing the two types of information a challenge."

With that objective, National Archives designed and built a digital records prototype system with in-house developed applications.

The infrastructure consists of two separate systems, one running Windows 2000 with 6.5TB of EMC CX500 disk and the other running Red Hat Enterprise 3.0 with 5.5TB of Apple Xserve storage.

David Pearson, NAA repository manager, said having two repositories with different technologies and vendors results in a "whole lot of redundancy" in the long term, but keeping them synchronized will be a challenge.