National Library of Scotland

National Library of Scotland entrusts cultural treasures to Scality RING

National Library of Scotland

Thousands of assets are digitized and stored on Scality RING per week, preserving precious collections and making them accessible to the public

The National Library of Scotland (NLS) houses one of Scotland’s national cultural collections, and, as a legal deposit library, it is entitled to claim a copy of everything published in the United Kingdom. The 31 million items already in its growing collection occupy 120 miles of shelving, with around 5,000 new items being added every single week. 

The library’s holdings include vastly differing formats — from maps to music to VHS tapes — as well as priceless items, including one of only 21 complete Gutenberg Bibles known to exist and the last letter written by Mary Queen of Scots just before her execution in 1587.

The challenge

The library set an ambitious goal for one-third of its collection to be in digital format by 2025. Their former preservation storage involved one copy on SAN, backed up on tape. As the digitization initiative got underway, the strategy had to be reconsidered. To preserve their precious data, NLS decided to keep three copies in different geographic locations and use multiple technologies for safety with checksums to ensure data integrity twice each year.

With so much irreplaceable data to hold, protect, and make accessible for generations to come, eliminating tape, ensuring streamlined growth and enabling simple on-prem and cloud storage synergy with S3 emerged as key goals.

  • “We’re looking at moving other backups, replacing tape with disk-to-disk backup; moving the non-print collections and even offering it as a service to other organizations, given its multitenancy capabilities.”

    Stuart Lewis Associate director, National Library of Scotland

The outcome

After getting proposals from “all of the expected vendors,” NLS chose Scality RING as a foundation of their preservation storage strategy. In addition to providing the resilient S3-compatible storage they wanted, Scality further advanced the library’s data integrity assurance model by developing a Bitrot checker for digital preservation that streamlines the integrity checking process.

Now that Scality RING has shown its strength, the National Library of Scotland is looking to add use cases and is even considering offering it as a service to other organizations, given its multi-tenancy capabilities.

  • “Working with Scality has been brilliant.”

    Stuart Lewis Associate director, National Library of Scotland
  • Scalability

    Now the storage can grow as they achieve their digitization goals. All they have to do is add more capacity, linearly. There’s no rip and replace, and no technology refresh — add drives to servers, add servers when the current ones are at capacity.
  • Low TCO

    The library maintains three copies — one in each of their two data centers and one in the cloud. Ease of management and the ability to scale without replacement, coupled with software licensing that doesn’t penalize for replicating the data equals big sav
  • Standard S3 interface

    To achieve a single interface for cloud and on-prem object storage, the library decided to standardize on S3. This decision motivated a re-engineering of their homegrown asset management system to support S3 — and was key to choosing Scality RING.
  • Less stress

    No LUNS means less maintenance and no more lengthy tape backups from which the library wondered if they would ever be able to restore. All that, plus they can lose a data center and everything is fine — even available throughout.