Case Study for the Exploit Interactive and Cultivate Interactive E-Journals

Exploit Interactive was an e-journal which was funded by the EU’s Telematics for Libraries programme. Nine issues of the journal were published between May 1999 and October 2000.

After the project funding had ceased, additional funding from the EU was obtained to publish a new e-journal known as Cultivate Interactive which was launched in July 2000. However there was a need to define a policy and accompanying procedures for the preservation of the Exploit Interactive Web site and content.

As described in a case study document on Providing Access to an EU-funded Project Web Site after Completion of Funding the following policy decisions were taken:

  • The Web site’s domain name will be kept for at least 3 years after the end of funding.
  • We will seek to ensure the Web site continues for at least 10 years after
    the end of funding.
  • We will seek to ensure that the Web site continues to function, although we
    cannot give an absolute commitment to this.
  • We will not commit to fixing broken links to external resources.
  • We will not commit to fixing non-compliant HTML resources.

The case study went on to measure the disk storage used by the Web site and to quantify the costs. The storage requirements of less than 500 Mg of disk space were not significant so it was agreed to continue to pay for the domain name until at least October 2008.

Periodic automated links checks were carried out on the Web site to ensure that the internal links on the Web site continued to work.

A similar process was established for the Cultivate Interactive e-journal, when its funding ceased in February 2003.

By 2007, however, it became clear that it would not be possible to continue hosting the Web sites for the two e-journals on an aging and unsupported Windows NT platform for much longer. Various options for migrating the software onto a new platform were considered including:

  1. Migrating the content and functionality of the services to a more modern MS Windows server platform.
  2. Migrating the content and functionality of the services to a Unix platform which provided emulation for an MS Windows Web server environment.
  3. Migrating the content and functionality of the service to a Unix/Apache platform.
  4. Mirroring the static content of the Web site to a flat file store structure on a Unix/Apache platform.

Option 4 was selected, in part due to the limited systems expertise in managing MS Windows server software, together with a desire to reduce the complexities of the servers managed by UKOLN’s systems team.

In April 2008 the Exploit Interactive service was mirrored to a new location, using the Wintrack Web site mirroring software.

The lessons we’ve learnt:

  • It is possible to provide access to a Web site eight years after funding has ceased.
  • The Web site may deteriorate over time, as the underlying technical infrastructure changes.
  • There will be a need to define clear policies, procedures and responsibilities for managing the process.
  • There are likely to be resource implications, but these may not necessarily be significant.
  • Migration of the underlying technical infrastructure (e.g. a CMS or scripts) to a new environment may require significant resources.

And I should add that on 19 November 2007 we received an email from Network Solutions giving us almost a year’s notice that out domain would expire in October 2008. We took the opportunity to retain the domain for an additional 5 years, up to October 2013. At $20 per year this was the most economical rate – although as a colleague pointed out, the $50 does need to be accounted for from some budget.