Minnesota  State Archives

Preserving State Government Digital Information:
Tessella Pilot Project


The Minnesota Historical Society (MHS) and three partner states worked with Tessella, a vendor of digital archiving solutions, to test a multi-tenancy pilot implementation of Tessella's Safety Deposit Box (SDB) system.

Over a six month period, partners were introduced to the product, had initial training, and were able to test the features and functionality of SDB. Details of the process are outlined below.

NOTE: This was a pilot project, due to limited time and resources the Safety Deposit Box instance used for the pilot was not as robust as a full implementation of the Safety Deposit Box application.


Final Reports: Tessella Pilot Project March 2011-September 2011

A final report from Minnesota documenting participants experiences of the pilot is posted below. A report from Tessella documenting their experience is also provided.


Wrap Up Meeting: September 21-22, 2011

The purpose of this meeting was to share each state’s experiences with testing of Tessella’s SDB system. Representatives from Tessella as well as from the states of Illinois, Tennessee, Vermont, and Minnesota attended.

Tessella gave an overview of strategic changes in the organization and how future releases of SDB would be delivered.

A review of what each state hoped to be able to test during the review period was followed by a discussion on each state’s experience. These experiences and discussions will be discussed in more detail in the final reports.

In addition to discussing SDB functionality, a discussion of business cases, costs and core requirements for a preservation repository system also took place.

Working with a variety of partners on this pilot raised awareness about the issues surrounding digital preservation. By understanding in more detail ideas about capacity, needs and wants gives in relation to a digital preservation repository help us determine what is a more practical and sustainable approach to digital preservation.

State Summary Reports for Wrap Up Meeting

In preparation for the Wrap Up Meeting, each state wrote their a summary report documenting their experiences. These reports are very specific to each state and address only the issues they were testing. Two final reports documenting all experiences will be written; one by Minnesota and another by Tessella.

Minnesota: Minnesota worked with Tessella on a very issues specific level. Comments and suggestions were made along the way. Minnesota's wrap up meeting report covers the issues of ingest, access, search, preservation, metadata, reporting, documentation, and troubleshooting. Read Minnesota's report here.

Tennessee: Tennessee focused on testing the ingestion of audio files and web crawling processes. Both of these processes were basic level customizations done for the pilot. Many of the issues Tennessee encountered were due to the testing environment of the pilot system. For more information view Tennessee's report.

Illinois: Illinois focused on looking behind the scenes to explore how SDB could be used with existing workflows. Illinois used APIs, OAI::PMH, Perl programs, and SOAP Protocol to see how their digital collection systems would work with the SDB software. Technical details are provided in their report.

Vermont: Vermont, who was most interested in evaluating system integration, approached testing as they would any new system they were evaluating. They used a set of review criteria created for a content management system. However, due to pilot constraints, large scale system integration and automation could not be tested. They tested the demo system as initally provided and did not ask for any customizations or assistance as was provided to the other states. Vermont's report is provided here.

Testing Period: May 2011 – September 2011

States were encouraged to test the system functionality in the way that they wanted to or explore features that interested them most. Minnesota, who had the most time to spend planned on exploring the complete system, testing ingest workflows, transformations, search functionality, metadata options, and reporting functions. Tennessee’s focus was on audio files and web crawling. Vermont was looking for integration with current processes at a batch level. Illinois looked behind the scenes and worked with programming languages and SDB’s API to write a script to automatically ingest materials.

Customizations and updates to the SDB system were added at various times throughout the testing period. Issues, both system based and user error based, were documented and addressed as they arose. Assistance was available from Tessella and MHS staff.


In State Trainings: April – May 2011

A representative from Tessella and a representative from MHS traveled to each partner state to introduce SDB to each state in more detail and to provide some end user training to a broader set of users. Background on Tessella was given as well as an in-depth demonstration and hands on experience of SDB functions. Between demonstrating different functions of SDB, participants were able to experience these functions for themselves with their own sample content.

Participants were also asked to discuss what it was that they were most interested in testing from a functionality and content perspective and to provide Tessella with more information about such items as necessary. For example, one state was interested in testing audio files. This required Tessella to make sure there were tools available in the system to address the formats in question. Another state was interested in customizing reports; Tessella would need to work with the state to better understand what types of reports were of interest.

After all of the training sessions were complete, Tessella compiled a list of requested customizations and determined what was within scope and achievable within the time and budget constraints.

[A day and a half was spent onsite at each state.]


System Preparation

Tessella deployed a multi tenancy instance of SDB as a hosted environment. The instance was deploys with some branding for each tenant. SDB accounts were provided to all pilot participants and access to the Tessella FTP server was also granted. All participants were also given access to the SDB user group which is made up of existing SDB customers across the globe. A ticketing system was also established to that pilot participants could register issues or suggestion regarding SDB functionality.

Minnesota established a Basecamp collaborative instance for participants to collect and share ideas, thoughts and experiences.


Kick Off Meeting: March 31 – April 1, 2011

The Kick Off Meeting for the NDIIPP / Tessella Pilot Project was attended by representatives from Illinois, Minnesota, Tennessee, and Vermont. After a quick recap of the NDIIPP project as a whole, a framework for the testing of the Safety Deposit Box (SDB) was given. This included discussing the timeframe, proposed activities, scope for customizations, and the SDB system in general.

Tessella gave a presentation on the basics of digital archiving, approaches and standards, change management, as well as an introduction and demonstration of SDB.

The second day was spent discussing customization options, answering questions, and determining next steps.


Pre-Kick Off Meeting: March 30, 2011

A pre-kick off meeting took place between Tessella and MHS staff to discuss the goals and objectives of the NDIIPP/Tessella pilot project. MHS provided the group with background on the NDIIPP project and Tessella representatives provided the group with background on Tessella and the Safety Deposit Box (SDB) system. An open discussion followed these introductions. Topics included access vs. preservation, audience, and methods for measuring success of the pilot. After a demonstration of SDB, a basic agenda was agreed upon for the Kick Off and upcoming In State training sessions.


NDIIPP Project Homepage

March 15, 2012