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European Open Science Cloud Initiative – Arkivum, in partnership with Google Cloud, awarded a role in multinational digital archiving project led by CERN, home of the Large Hadron Collider

A multinational scientific buyer group led by CERN – which operates the Large Hadron Collider at its particle physics laboratory near Geneva – has chosen UK-based digital archiving specialists Arkivum, in partnership with Google Cloud, for the design phase of a three-year project which will radically improve archiving and digital preservation services for petabyte-scale data-intensive research. The role was officially awarded at the ‘virtual kick-off event’ for the design phase of the project on Monday 8th June.

The aim of the EUR 4.8m project, named ARCHIVER (Archiving and Preservation for Research Environments), is to support the IT requirements of European scientists and to provide end-to-end archival and preservation services for the vast and ever-growing datasets generated by world-leading research.

Embracing such issues as extreme data-scaling, network connectivity, service interoperability and business models, all in a hybrid cloud environment, ARCHIVER enters its four-month design phase this summer. It is a multidisciplinary project that will produce a range of solutions to be made available through the European Open Science Cloud and beyond. In addition to CERN, the members of the buyer group are DESY (Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron), which is based in Hamburg and Berlin, EMBL-EBI (European Bioinformatics Institute), located in Cambridge, and PIC (Port d’Informació Científica), situated near Barcelona. The ARCHIVER project receives European Commission funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No 824516).

Arkivum’s selection for the design phase, following a competitive tender for this EU-funded project, affirms its status as an internationally recognised expert in long-term data archiving and digital preservation of valuable digital assets including research data. Since being spun out from the University of Southampton nearly a decade ago, Arkivum has built a reputation with client organisations which place a crucial emphasis on the long-term security, integrity and accessibility of data, and on good practice in its stewardship and governance. Arkivum now provides specialist software and services to major institutions and commercial organisations in a diversity of sectors, including life sciences and pharmaceuticals, corporate, higher education, culture and heritage.

Partnering with Google in the project, Arkivum will develop a solution for long-term data management and online access, to be deployed on the Google Cloud Platform. While Arkivum’s particular expertise lies in reliably keeping large volumes of complex archive data secure and accessible, thus maximising compliance, insight and discovery, the new collaboration with Google Cloud enables Arkivum’s teams to tackle data on an immense scale, described by ARCHIVER as in the “petabyte region and beyond” (a petabyte is a million times larger than a gigabyte). Arkivum is looking forward to supporting the expanding needs of researchers who are seeking to leverage best practice and economies of scale in the advanced stewardship of publicly funded data in Europe.

Matthew Addis, Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder of Arkivum, says: “It is a huge honour for Arkivum to be awarded this project by such a prestigious and forward-looking group of world leaders in science. Arkivum’s credentials have been built with respected institutions and commercial organisations in a variety of sectors, but our selection for ARCHIVER constitutes a new level of global recognition. Our technology is well proven in the stewardship of large volumes of complex data in a multiplicity of formats, but now, thanks to our partnership with Google Cloud, we are ready to deal with the demands of research data archiving on an unprecedented scale, and to ensure that data is Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable (FAIR) for decades to come. Not only will we be handling complex research data that underpins hugely important international scientific endeavours, but we will also be working with a wealth of important historical and cultural multimedia material that CERN holds in its digital memory archives.”

In the early days of CERN, as long ago as 1955, the Swiss politician Albert Picot said that: “CERN is not just another laboratory. It is an institution that has been entrusted with a noble mission which it must fulfil, not just for tomorrow but for the eternal history of human thought.” Thanks to all the experience that Arkivum has gained with memory institutions and heritage organisations, Arkivum and Google Cloud will now play their part in ensuring that this mission can be fulfilled.