emulationServicesFocus

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We indentified two major issues handicapping the proliferation of Emulation: Technical complexity and legal issues.

Addressing technical complexity

Technical complexity goes beyond the efforts required to build, test and maintain emulators. Also to deploy an emulator deep technical skills are required in downloading, installing and configuring the emulator involved. Even then every single file that needs to be emulated requires a complex procedure of creating an image etc.

The GRATE-Remote emulator webservice in our view is a major step in “Making emulation easy”. Also the inclusion of Dioscuri and UVC as wrapped services in the PLANETS Testbed will help to demonstrate the practical use of the emulation components in preservation actions.

We also strived for a process of standardisation to reduce the effort needed to develop and deploy emulation environments. As a result of various developer meetings the CreateView command and code is now not only used in PLANETS Interoperability Framework, Testbed, PLATO) but also as a basis for further developments in the KEEP project and in the SDB e-depot solution by Tessella.

Addressing legal issues

Legal issues regarding software licenses are a key problem with emulation. An institution may have the original software required for an emulation action, but the original license does not cover the use in an emulated environment especially in a remote, distributed emulation environment as the PLANETS Central Instance can cater for. A preferred option is to come to an emulation Software Archive, a registry where emulators can load there view-paths from. This is completely impossible under general software licenses, however, not even on a local instance of the software archive.

In Year 4 the PA/5 workpackage has undertaken two courses of action to address this problem. First and foremost we have started discussions with PLANETS partners Microsoft and IBM to get this problem on the agenda and to find solutions that would be acceptable for their legal departments. Although this has not led to a direct result, it certainly helped raise awareness within these companies that they can contribute to a solution. They provided very valuable feedback and support for further steps. Also we have been in close contact with the KEEP project and with the Open Planets Foundation to take this subject further with the European Commission.

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