An introduction to tessella and the safety deposit box platform
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An Introduction to Tessella and The Safety Deposit Box Platform. Mark Evans Digital Archiving Practice Manager. Tessella Overview. What we do Information technology & consulting services for leaders in R&D, science, engineering and archiving

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An Introduction to Tessella and The Safety Deposit Box Platform

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An Introduction to Tessella and The Safety Deposit Box Platform

Mark Evans

Digital Archiving Practice Manager

Tessella Overview

  • What we do

    • Information technology & consulting services for leaders in R&D, science, engineering and archiving

    • Archiving is one of our two major technology focus areas

    • Flexible & end to end support

  • Key facts

    • Established in 1980

    • ~200 S/W Engineers and Consultants

    • 60% of staff hold PhDs

  • What makes us different

    • Archiving and Preservation experts

    • 10 years of practical experience

    • Delivered real preservation solutions

    • Well qualified S/W engineers & consultants

    • Effective partnering at all levels

      • Part of a consortia

      • Large systems integrators

      • Acting as a prime

      • Research colaboratives

Tessella Locations

  • Dedicated archive practices in

    • Abingdon UK

    • Washington DC


Long Term






SDB Technology:

Archive & Active



& Integration

Archiving Services

Genuine Innovation in Archiving

Developed online file format registry with UK National Archives, used to dictate preservation strategies.

Open source file identification tool using digital “fingerprint” to identify file formats, developed with UK National Archives.

SDB – Safety Deposit Box

Digital Archive platform that provides “Active Preservation” Capabilities

Open source x86 emulator build for KB (Royal Dutch Library) and Nationaal Archief (Dutch Archive).

Digital Preservation Research

150 man year EU funded research into preservation strategies with 15 leading organisations.

Keeping Emulation Environments Portable: - EU funded research for the development of an Emulation Access Platform

DataNet program – Development of a national infrastructure to suport the long term preservation and access of scientific data

Example Digital Archiving Projects

  • National / Regional implementations

    • 8 instances of SDB

  • NARA ERA program

    • Subcontractor to Lockheed Martin

  • Life sciences

    • Archiving of digitally signed Electronic Lab Notebooks (ELN)

    • Global Digital Archive

  • Consultancy

    • Needs assessment for UK houses of Parliament

    • Education seminar to agencies in Canada


Preservation Planning








Safety Deposit Box

Based on the OAIS

reference model

Evolving technology

since 2003

In use at leading


Includes “Active Preservation” framework

(safeguard against technology obsolescence)

Safety Deposit Box

UK National Archives

Dutch National Archives

Safety Deposit Box – Deployed Locations

The British Library

Rotterdam Regional


  • Wellcome

  • Trust Library

Swiss Federal Archives

Malaysian Archives

Safety Deposit Box - Offerings

  • SDB can be offered in 3 primary configurations

Standalone Archive



SDB search &




Web service API



Black-box Archive

Custom / 3rd

party access

3rd party


Active Preservation


Storage adapter

3rd party content storage

Ingest toolkit

  • Create an SDB SIP from received content

  • Receive SIP (files + metadata) by:

    • File copying

    • ftp

    • SOAP

  • Perform SIP Checks:

    • Consistency checks

    • Fixity check

    • Virus check

    • Characterization

  • Ingest Delete requests

  • Ingest Edit requests

Passive Preservation

Metadata Store

  • Represents the AIP (SDB supports a logical AIP approach)

  • Based of the Planets core data model

    • Structure of records

    • Association of files to records

    • Technical metadata

    • Descriptive metadata

    • Full audit trail

    • Significant properties

  • Configurable metadata schema

    • Any registered schema , e.g. MARC, PREMIS etc

  • Automated integrity checking

Active Preservation

Three main components

  • Characterization

    • What do I have in my archive?

  • Preservation planning

    • What am I going to do to guard

      against obselescence?

  • Preservation Processing (Migration)

    • Select an approved pathway

    • Execute

    • Validate

    • Re-ingest and associate to the original

Active Preservation

  • Technical registry is the cornerstone of the active preservation framework

  • Contains Factual information

    • Formats

    • Software

    • Hardware

    • Tools

  • Contains Policy Information:

    • Risks / obsolescence

    • Significant properties

    • Tool usage

    • Migration pathways


  • Characterize files: - Use a framework approach

    • Basic: file size, last modified date

    • Format Identification (DROID)

    • Format Validation (JHove)

    • Property extraction (Jhove plus others)

  • Embedded object extraction:

    • Iterative characterisation

  • Record Components:

    • Discover

    • Measure invariant properties of the components

Preservation Planning

SDB uses a risk based approach

  • Determine risk of formats

    • With properties (e.g. LOC sustainability factors)

  • Determine files at risk

  • Determine records at risk:

    • Build list of things to migrate

  • Look up best migration pathway:

    • Allow manual approval

Preservation Action - Migration

  • Perform approved pathway

  • Complex mappings allowed

  • Partial migrations allowed

  • Validation:

    • Re-measure invariant properties

    • Tool specific

  • Ingest migrated files + metadata


Thank you for your attention

Mark Evans

[email protected]

(1) 240 403 7504

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