Empowering CyArk’s Digital Preservation of Cultural Heritage Sites

“It is possible to archive this kind and capacity of data; you just need the right tools. StrongBox is one of those tools.” – Elizabeth Lee, Director of CyArk

The Challenge

Scalable, affordable storage with global accessibility

From earthquakes to forest fires, natural and man-made disasters can wreak havoc on cultural heritage sites. When disaster looms, how can we ensure that future generations experience the man-made wonders of our past? Cutting-edge digital laser technology from CyArk and a high-powered data archive is the answer.

Founded in 2003, CyArk is a non-profit organization established to digitally preserve the world’s cultural heritage sites. Using advanced recording technologies like 3-D laser scans, time-of-flight cameras and other future-focused technologies, CyArk’s goal is to preserve humankind’s architectural history until the end of time. CyArk stores terabytes of irreplaceable data, and with many new digital preservation projects on the horizon, the data archive will quickly grow into petabytes. Elizabeth Lee, director of CyArk operations, put it simply, “Here today doesn’t always mean here tomorrow. We needed to store data at the lowest cost for the most capacity with high security and reliability.”

Sites such as Rapa Nui, Ancient Thebes and Saint-Trophime have been captured and stored on hard drives and through manual processes, but CyArk needed a reliable and highly secure way to store its growing archive and keep content readily accessible. The hard drive method did not provide the security, longevity or reliability that CyArk required. How would CyArk make its digital archives highly available if data was stored on tape?

The Solution

Scalable data preservation with StrongBox

CyArk found the answer in a full archive solution powered by StrongBox and Spectra Logic’s T950 Linear Tape Library. StrongBox is an LTFS-based network-attached storage (NAS) solution for long-term archiving and data preservation. StrongBox utilizes unique disk-caching technology for rapid file access to data stored within the cost-efficient LTFS library.

Essentially, StrongBox makes the library look and act like disk but with much higher reliability, scalability and security. Functioning as standard NAS via CIFS or NFS file shares, StrongBox provides storage that is accessible for multiple users with a persistent, online view of all files archived in the library. As a vendor-neutral storage solution, files are never modified when stored by StrongBox, enabling CyArk and its worldwide partners to access data without vendor restrictions.

Long-term growth strategy

With scalable capacity, the StrongBox solution empowers CyArk to meet archive requirements today and for many years to come. CyArk’s current archive consists of about 50 terabytes but is expected to grow into several petabytes over the next five years. StrongBox can scale infinitely by simply adding tape drives and media to the library as needed.

Complete protection for irreplaceable files

“Trusting our data with StrongBox is something that we don’t take lightly,” said Jamie Pursuit, partnership and development manager at CyArk. Since CyArk’s files are irreplaceable, reliable data protection is key. StrongBox’s core capability of writing data to multiple tapes delivers file protection that helps the CyArk team “sleep at night,” said Pursuit. CyArk keeps one set of data onsite for seamless data access and exports tapes for offsite vaulting with Iron Mountain.

Hash coding and authenticated access provide data integrity checks at the file level so that CyArk knows that data written to tape is the exact data that is read. As Lee said, “We know data is secure. We know it’s safe, and that empowers us to be able to do what we want to do as a company.”

Perfect file access

Lee said, “Success is always accessing every file perfectly, never losing any file. We can bring new partners on board and easily share our information with them.” End users never have to see the IT side of file retrieval; they simply click on a file from the StrongBox folder within their Windows Explorer, Mac Finder or other file-based application.

The Bottom Line

A reliable and scalable archive empowers CyArk to meet their organization’s goals

The reliability of storage technology is integral to CyArk’s mission. Faced with challenges of scalability, reliability and accessibility, CyArk’s choice of StrongBox has empowered the non-profit to solve these challenges, expand its archive, attract new partners, and secure the digital preservation of the world’s cultural heritage sites for many years to come. With a smile, Lee said, “It is possible to archive this kind and capacity of data; you just need the right tools. StrongBox is one of those tools.”

About CyArk

CyArk is a nonprofit organization with the mission of “digital preservation of world heritage sites.” CyArk uses the latest technologies to document heritage sites in accurate, detailed 3D. Once captured, this data is used for conservation and education, and it is made available for free online. Ultimately, CyArk is creating an archive that will represent the story of humanity.

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