Many application and SaaS hosts pitch a no fuss, easy to use, up-to-date hosted archive. However, most customers who sign up for these services don’t plan for what will happen when they no longer wish to use the services of their existing host. We’ve experienced customers who have tried to migrate away only to find that the hosting company will not easily allow them access to their data. Not checking the fine print and not fully vetting your supplier can result in a near impossible migration away to a new service or to your own in house setup.
Hosting providers may use excuses such as customized software or that the way they store data doesn’t allow for an easy migration. This is all used to lock you in to their services and make migrating away almost impossible. You are therefore trapped on their system with no way of taking back ownership of your data without considering a application rebuild, paying hefty exit fees or possibly considering legal action.
Your check list when choosing a DSpace hosting provider
- Does the provider give you full access to the database and files?
- Is there a way to access the server directly? Is access secure?
- Is the provider running a dedicated DSpace system or is it some kind of customized application, with limited features,
- Can the provider give you the customized theme files, configuration and search/statistics indexes? If you can’t get a hold of these you will lose them forever,
- What customizations has the provider made and are they open source?
- What proprietary code or features has the provider introduced? Can these be easily decoupled from the main DSpace software if the need arises?
- What costs are involved in migrating away from the current provider?
Can you access your data?
You may also wish to check with your provider the ways in which migrations will be conducted. Will the provider give you direct access to your data and files or will they provide you with a compatible dump of your communities, collections and items?
Some providers simply ask that you use DSpace’s export tool which is available from the user interface. This is a red flag; DSpace’s export tool limits the number of assets it can export and you may be left with no way to migrate off of your existing host.
Also ask about migrating your users and permissions; DSpace’s migration tools do not handle these types of data. If you need to migrate everything you will need full access to the DSpace database.
Finding a better solution
At KnowledgeArc, you have fully control and access to your data when you need it. Want to make a backup of your database and assets; this is possible on KnowledgeArc’s platform. Need to have admin access; we can provide this securely using encrypted key features. Need to migrate away; we offer full access to your db and files.
We urge anyone who is hosting a DSpace repository on a 3rd party hosting provider to contact them and and make sure your data is fully accessible. If it isn’t, contact us and we will help you migrate away to a platform where you are in fully control of your data.