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Emulation as a Service for heritage institutes. Test report

Eoin O'Donohoe

This report explores the concept of emulation in an archival context by examining what exactly the term means, providing an overview of a current framework for its implementation, and offering some suggestions for institutions or individuals that are looking to get started on this topic.

The NDE Software Archiving project, conducted during the “intensiveringsperiode” 2019–2020, brings together research, best practices, and guidelines for Dutch heritage institutions looking to start with software preservation. Central to this research has been the exploration of possibilities for the use of emulation as part of preservation and access workflow. The ability to render and interact with outdated formats and obsolete software through emulated environments opens collections up to researchers and the public in a more engaging way. The issue of integrity, and faithfulness to the original, is key to archival practice. Given the difficulty of maintaining legacy hardware and software into the future, as new technologies continue to emerge, emulation can be seen as a worthwhile approach for sustainable access to such materials. As early as 2005, the Dutch National Archives and the National Library of the Netherlands were investigating and developing tools for emulation, as part of Dioscuri 1 project. Various other initiatives and research projects have been carried out on the topic but, with the ever advancing improvements in the technology and its implementation within current emulation projects, now is the time to investigate and test this approach in a Dutch context.

This report is aimed at application managers who are interested in installing the Emulation as a Service (EaaS) framework, as well as general users who are looking to learn about creating object environments and how the framework operates.

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