National Archives Applied Research

Advanced Research Projects: NARA's Transcontinental Persistent Archives Prototype (TPAP)

The Transcontinental Persistent Archives Prototype (TPAP) is a research test bed developed in a partnership between NCAST and three of its partners, the Data Intensive Cyber Environments (DICE) Group at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI), and the Institute for Neural Computation at the University of California, San Diego. This test bed supports collaborative efforts to examine preservation and access issues for large volumes of diverse and complex data that may be stored in various locations.

The TPAP is a distributed federation of different, and independently administered, computing platforms that interact as a single virtual repository - also known as a data grid. The TPAP presently has five nodes located at the National Archives at College Park (College Park, MD); the National Archives Building in Washington, DC; the Allegany Ballistics Laboratory (Rocket Center, WV); University of California (San Diego); and the Renaissance Computing Institute (Chapel Hill, NC).

The original test bed was built upon the concepts of data grids and used the data virtualization paradigm applied in the Storage Resource Broker (SRB) software developed by the DICE Group. The system was used to test concepts in:

  • Infrastructure independence
  • Technology migration
  • Distributed data administration
  • Metadata management
  • Integration of complex archival processes
  • Accessioning systems
  • Physical and logical data aggregation
  • Federation of preservation systems
  • Scalable and fail-safe long-term preservation

A second-generation prototype is currently being assembled based on the integrated Rule-Oriented Data System (iRODS). In this test bed, the main ideas that are studied include:

  • Application of rule-based workflows for development of customizable archival processes and enforcement of archival standards.
  • Integration of multiple archival processes in a service-oriented architecture framework
  • Policy virtualization for long-term preservation
  • The building of extensible preservation systems
  • Migration between preservation systems

The TPAP won one of four inaugural Internet2 Driving Exemplary Applications (IDEA) Awards. Read the press releases at: