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NARA DMU Project

Delivering Software and Services to NARA for 16 Years--the Past is indeed Prologue

Manhasset, NY -- August 2006 -- Muller Media Conversions has just completed the latest in a series of software developments for the National Archives.  The relationship began in 1992, including such things as the development and enhancement over the span of a decade of the "Archival Preservation System" (APS) which reads, converts and preserves massive amounts of electronic data from many federal agencies. There have been other special projects. In one such project, 30-year-old computer tapes containing a proprietary database with Presidents Nixon's appointment calendar and meeting notes were presented to MMC to be "cracked". In all the preceding years, no one had succeeded in converting the files to anything useful.  MMC analyzed the format and converted it to a PC database, with a handy front-end application for researchers.

APS works principally with tape media. The most recent project involved enabling the use of network-addressable (iSCSI) tape devices as well as the ability to use tape libraries, permitting system operators to efficiently share drives and tape slots.  Even though it works hand-in-hand with APS (and potentially other legacy applications) this new set of capabilities was written as a separate software package, dubbed "DMU". It utilizes the Microsoft .NET 2.0 framework, Windows message queuing, and direct SCSI device control for tape libraries.  A key element in the overall solution is the use of the ASPI Emulation Layer from NexiTech, Inc. of Woodland Park, CO, which provides an infrastructure so legacy applications can "see" both local SCSI devices and remote iSCSI devices. The firm would also like to acknowledge ARkival Technologies of Nashua NH for their help with early stage integration and testing. The project was completed in July 2006.

With ERA in the Wings...

The new capabilities will help APS to improve its workload capacity until the new, far more extensive Electronic Records Archive (ERA) system is readied for introduction next year. (ERA is being developed for NARA by Lockheed Martin.) "We believe that a rejuvenated APS can help smooth the transition, and eventually act as an efficient front-end component to ERA," says MMC founder Chris Muller.

Service Bureau Projects as Well as Software Development

One of MMC's strengths over the years has been the fact that it is both a software development company and a conversion service bureau. "We eat our own cooking," says Muller. "The software which we license to clients is often the same software we've been using and enhancing in our service bureau for years. Even when we're developing completely new software, having a service bureau helps us see things from a user's perspective."

Just as they were finishing up their latest NARA software task, its two-fisted skill set allowed MMC to prove its worth to NARA yet again. In July 2006,  MMC was awarded a services contract to recover data from several hundred older tapes in a variety of unusual formats.

Conversions can be driven by the need for compliance, migration, litigation, etc.  Whatever the need, MMC's "Raiders of the Lost Archives" would be happy to help.