AVATAR-m developed an innovative new approach to planning and managing large-scale, sustainable and integrated digital archive storage solutions. In 2010 the world generated the equivalent of one billion hard drives worth of data. This doubles every year. Over 80% of this data is not frequently accessed, yet much remains hugely valuable, and retention is essential for compliance or reuse - not just business data, but the whole digital record of the 21st century. Many companies generating this data simply do not have the infrastructure or expertise to ensure its long-term safe-keeping. AVATAR-m tackled this problem by looking at how to bridge the gap between the business needs for data retention (cost, safety, security, accessibilty) and the IT aspects of how to implement storage systems to support these needs (storage technologies, data movement and replication, integrity management, SLAs and storage as a service). The focus in the project was the needs of the broadcast and oil and gas sectors. The market for a new service-based approach to long-term retention and access to data is truely enormous (over $10Bn for the media and entertainment industry alone). The impact of the wrong approach is equally huge: litigation, loss of irreplaceable assets, or the financial and environmental impact of inappropriate storage strategies.
A key result from all this work is a new company called Arkivum, which has been spun-out of IT Innovation to provide assured archiving services across a range of sectors.
AVATAR-m was a collaborative R&D project involving the BBC, Ovation Data Services, University of Edinburgh, Xyratex and IT Innovation. It received research funding from the UK Technology Programme.