operating and transforming digital collections using freizo

freizo is a software platform supported by Data Futures—a coalition of organizations managing digital assets and operating and developing collections. It provides transformation, storage and workflow development tools for the import, hosting and export of digital collections in multiple standard and proprietary formats, and the efficient construction and operation of scalable network computing infrastructures for object-oriented  database applications. freizo is effective for small exploratory projects but also allows smooth growth—exploiting parallelism efficiently for increased performance and fail-over needs of very large collections—while minimizing costs of operation.

Rather than a digital collection application or network operating environment, freizo is a migration vehicle which can also accommodate research projects and user communities directly. Currently it supports several reclamation projects involving re-delivery of collections that had become stranded on legacy technologies, as well as major new collection developments. It is implemented using software technologies such as MongoDB, which today are widely available and open source. However, the Data Futures program is concerned with very long-term accessibility and maintenance of collections, and freizo is designed to be re-implemented periodically using similarly accessible technologies, since even programming languages evolve or fall into disuse.

Intended primarily for institutional and academic collection management, freizo addresses the problems of continuous availability of services, support of research communities and minimizing vulnerability to departmental re-organization over successive decades - enabling long-range forecasting of costs associated with long-term maintenance for the first time. It does this by making all the information captured in digital collections migrate-able; preserving relationships between metadata and asset files and reducing dependencies on specific database technologies and website interfaces. It enables academic projects to adopt emerging services and standards without abandoning existing investment or becoming locked into specific technologies. Significantly, freizo can exploit institutional resources as well as emerging cloud computing products, making projects more independent and allowing them to benefit from increasingly competitive pricing to deliver services to international communities, but retaining complete control of digital masters on physical installations where necessary.

freizo is currently in use at multiple institutions and commercial partners and is currently in the process of open source release.