Thursday, June 23, 2011

Archiving in the Networked World: Metrics for Testing (abstract)

This article will appear in Library Hi Tech, v29, no. 3, which should be available in August 2011 in preprint form. The abstract is below.

Purpose: This column looks at how long term digital archiving systems are tested and what benchmarks and other metrics are necessary for that testing to produce data that the community can use to make decisions.

Methodology: The article reviews recent literature about digital archiving systems involving public and semi-public tests. It then looks specifically at the rules and metrics needed for doing public or semi-public testing for three specific issues: 1) triggering migration; 2) ingest rates; and 3) storage capacity measurement.

Findings: Important literature on testing exists but common metrics do not, and too little data is available at this point to establish them reliably. Metrics are needed to judge the quality and timeliness of an archive’s migration services. Archives should offer benchmarks for the speed of ingest, but that will happen only once they come to agreement about starting and ending points. Storage capacity is another area where librarians are raising questions, but without proxy measures and agreement about data amounts, such testing cannot proceed.

Implications:  Testing is necessary to develop useful metrics and benchmarks about performance. At present the archiving community has too little data on which to make decisions about long term digital archiving, and as long as that is the case, the decisions may well be flawed.

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