EaaSY – Scaling Emulation and Software Preservation Infrastructure

Title:​ EaaSY – Scaling Emulation and Software Preservation Infrastructure

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

Duration: ​January 2017 – June 2020


The goal of EaaSY is to develop a scalable emulation infrastructure to support:

  • Distributed management– EaaSY will include a network of distributed nodes, each contributing to the projects’ development roadmap in order to augment local digital preservation infrastructure.
  • Sharing – The EaaSY 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 – EaaSY 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 EaaSY project builds on previous work to apply the Emulation-as-a-Service (EaaS) model for access and use of preserved software and digital objects. The project is focused on scaling the technological framework necessary for multiple institutions to configure, share, and access software and configured environments. EaaSY is focused on a distributed, community-driven architecture that sits on top of existing digital preservation infrastructure. This directly complements existing efforts by the Software Preservation Network 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.


Seth Anderson Program Manager, Yale University

Euan Cochrane Principal Investigator, Yale University

Jessica Meyerson Outreach and Communications Lead, Educopia Institute

Klaus Rechert Architecture and Development Lead, OpenSLX

Katherine Thornton Semantic Architect, Yale University



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 http://science.kjzz.org/content/620711/why-it-important-preserve-old-software

Hester, J. (2018). The Quest for a Universal Translator for Old, Obsolete Computer Files. Atlas Obscura. Retrieved from https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/how-to-open-old-computer-files

Hao, K. (2018). Now that most artifacts are digital, software experts need to play archeologist. Quartz. Retrieved from https://qz.com/1209414/yale-researchers-are-working-to-preserve-obsolete-digital-files/

Pevner, J. (2018). Yale announces software recovery project. Yale Daily News. Retrieved from https://yaledailynews.com/blog/2018/03/05/yale-announces-software-recovery-project/

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