Scaling Emulation as a Service Infrastructure (EaaSI)

Title:​ Scaling Emulation and Software Preservation Infrastructure

Funders: ​Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

Grantee: Yale University

Duration: ​January 2017 – June 2020


The goal of project at Yale University Library is to develop a scalable Emulation as a Service Infrastructure (EaaSI) to support:

  • Distributed management– EaaSI will include a network of distributed nodes, each contributing to the projects’ development roadmap in order to augment local digital preservation infrastructure.
  • Sharing – The EaaSI architecture will facilitate an opt-in model of within-network sharing of software images and configured environments. Yale University Library will pre-populate the network with at least 3000 pre-configured software applications running in configured software environments.
  • Discovery – Software and configured environments will be discoverable through the use and integration of the Wikidata for Digital Preservation web-portal and its associated data model.
  • Access – EaaSI is developing services to support several access use cases including APIs for networked sharing of configured environments among cultural memory/research institutions, virtual reading rooms, reproducibility in the computationally dependent sciences, sharing CD-ROM collections.


The use of born-digital information requires ongoing support of underlying software that supports its application; a dependency that is challenged by the complexity of digital environments and the inherent obsolescence of developing technologies. In response, many organizations are engaged in the collection and preservation of software. However, no single organization can collect all of the software titles that might be required in order to access the contents of their existing collections. Additionally, acquisition alone does not guarantee software will function as planned, now or in the future. Preserved software and the digital objects it supports may remain inaccessible despite our best efforts.

The Scaling Emulation and Software Preservation Infrastructure (EaaSI) project builds on previous work by Yale University Library and elsewhere to apply the Emulation-as-a-Service (EaaS) model for access and use of preserved software and digital objects. The project is focused on developing a distributed, community-driven architecture that complements existing digital preservation infrastructure. This project supports efforts by the Software Preservation Network (SPN) and others to address key aspects of software preservation including legal advocacy, research about local software preservation needs, institutional capacity building for software preservation, collection development, professional development and training, and workflow recommendations. SPN is partnering with Yale on project outreach and communication to ensure that the services developed meet the needs of the software preservation community and that the expertise and infrastructure will be shared broadly beyond Yale.


Seth Anderson Program Manager, Yale University Library

Euan Cochrane Principal Investigator, Yale University Library

Jessica Meyerson Outreach and Communications Lead, Educopia Institute

Klaus Rechert Architecture and Development Lead, OpenSLX

Katherine Thornton Semantic Architect, Yale University Library



Community participation is crucial to the success of this project. The first phase of active engagement will begin in late Spring 2018. Get in touch to learn more about the project.


Goldstein, S. (2018-03-13). Why Is It Important To Preserve Old Software?.The Show. 91.5 KJZZ. Tempe, Arizona. Retrieved from

Hester, J. (2018). The Quest for a Universal Translator for Old, Obsolete Computer Files. Atlas Obscura. Retrieved from

Hao, K. (2018). Now that most artifacts are digital, software experts need to play archeologist. Quartz. Retrieved from

Pevner, J. (2018). Yale announces software recovery project. Yale Daily News. Retrieved from

SPN is sincerely grateful for all forms of support:

  1. In-kind contributions of time and expertise from SPN participants
  2. Direct financial support from the Institute for Museum and Library Services
  3. Affiliated project support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation