ID: 87

FRYER, Christopher; BROWN, Adrian


Christopher Fryer currently works at the Parliamentary Archives as a Senior Digital Archivist where he has operational responsibility for Parliament’s digital repository. He manages the Archives’ digital preservation function as a business-as-usual activity, as well as leading the final phase of the Digital Preservation project to its conclusion in March 2015. Before joining the Parliamentary Archives, he was a Digital Curator and Assistant Records Manager for Northumberland Estates. He lead on the implementation of a best practice digital continuity environment which involved the delivery of a digital repository and EDRMS. After completing his MSc in Information Management and Preservation (Digital) at the University of Glasgow in 2011, he has worked in various roles including Project Officer for the Museum Galleries Scotland (MGS) funded project ‘Enhancing Access’. This project involved large scale digitisation, web site redevelopment, and importing collections into Europeana.


Adrian Brown is currently Director of the Parliamentary Archives in London. Adrian began his career as a field archaeologist. In 1994, he moved to the English Heritage Centre for Archaeology in Portsmouth. During this time he developed and implemented a digital archiving programme. Adrian moved to the Digital Preservation Department of the UK National Archives in 2002, and was appointed Head of Digital Preservation in 2005, playing a key part in - and latterly leading - the development of the digital repository, which was subsequently awarded the 2011 Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation. He was also responsible for developing the PRONOM and DROID tools and the UK Government web archiving programme. Adrian has previously served as a director of the Digital Preservation Coalition, and is currently a trustee of the International Records Management Trust. He has lectured and published widely on all aspects of digital preservation, including “Practical Digital Preservation” (2013).


Achieving sustainable digital preservation in the cloud

Brief summary:

Parliament has successfully implemented a production-ready digital repository which adopts third-party cloud storage services. This paper discusses common concerns surrounding the use of cloud services for digital preservation and how Parliament has tackled these challenges using innovative and practical solutions.


The Parliamentary Archives is responsible for preserving and providing access to collections of national importance in all formats, and in an ever changing environment. Since 2010 a staged project has led to the successful implementation of a production-ready digital repository. The digital repository adopts third-party cloud services as a primary means of storage. Parliament operates a ‘cloud first’ ICT policy which led to the adoption of the UK Government G-Cloud procurement process. The project has demonstrated the viability of using cloud storage providers despite common concerns over their adoption.

Using the Parliamentary Archives as a case study this paper will explore in-depth the challenges and opportunities resulting from the use of the cloud. Using cloud providers has enabled Parliament to provide a rigorous preservation storage capability which is flexible, scalable, and provides a low barrier to entry.

The Parliamentary Archives’ experience demonstrates the feasibility of using cloud storage providers for preservation purposes. Issues of trust, authenticity, and security were all thoroughly addressed and will be explored in this paper. Just as importantly, a digital repository is a combination of technological and human factors. Parliament’s experience has highlighted the overlooked human factor and we aim to demonstrate to the wider community the importance of closely collaborating both internally and externally.

The ingest of content into the cloud and the portability or provisioning of data remain a concern, and this paper will explore whether they undermine the use of the cloud. The cost effectiveness of the cloud over the long-term also remains an issue which will be addressed in this paper.

Scientific contribution:

Parliament’s successful implementation of an advanced digital repository in conjunction with the use of cloud storage services provides an innovative practical application of using the cloud to enable a best practice digital preservation environment. Parliament’s experience of addressing authenticity requirements, including issues of reliability, usability, and especially integrity in the cloud will be explored.

The paper will also examine the complex issues around establishing trust and defining responsibilities in a cloud environment. Parliament’s experience can contribute significantly to the adoption of cloud services for the management and preservation of digital records. Despite concerns over the use of cloud services for digital preservation, the Parliamentary Archives experience shows that with the right application robust preservation environments can be achieved.


Digital preservation, cloud, authenticity, G-Cloud, scalability, Parliament, collaboration, digital repository, data