Spectra IWM IBC Innovation scan2

Imperial War Museums (IWM) has won the 2022 IBC Innovation Award in ‘Content Distribution’ for an impressive, large-scale digital asset management and storage project. Working with a group of technology partners on the design, the Museums implemented the system across multiple sites at data centres in Cambridge and London. Aiming for excellence in digital preservation, this IWM project enables generations to explore more than one million items amassed since 1917 in IWM’s five branches.

The 2022 IBC Innovation Awards celebrate the spirit of collaboration within the content and technology industry, recognising the best new ways to manage content and connect creators and consumers, or creators and their collaborators.  

The IWM project’s data management and storage architecture is built on software and hardware from multiple vendors including Spectra Logic, Axiell and Veritas to enable IWM to collect and preserve real stories of modern war, conflicts and their impact. The result is a genetically diverse, geographically dispersed storage ecosystem that IWM is using to safeguard the collections. This material forms the basis of its invaluable programs, immersive exhibitions, historical filmmaking, research and learning programmes. 

Spectra IWM IBC Innovation


Ian Crawford, chief information officer at Imperial War Museums, said, “We have around 1.5 petabytes of unique data, but generate multiple copies to keep this data safe. We actually store nearly 5 petabytes. When we set out on our search to find a storage system capable of preserving Imperial War Museums’ substantial digital archive, our partners met all of our requirements and then some.” 
With the challenge of reliably preserving a collection of over one million digital assets, IWM was determined to establish a digital archive based on best practices in long-term storage and digital preservation. Their storage ecosystem includes Spectra T950 Tape Libraries and a Spectra BlackPearl NAS with high-density drive capability that allows expansion. Spectra’s BlackPearl object storage platform migrates data between tape generations.

Spectra IWM IBC Innovation scan

A few years after setting up the archive, Spectra StorCycle Lifecycle Management software was deployed to optimise IWM’s primary storage capacity by offloading inactive data to the archive infrastructure. The staff are using StorCycle to manage a large amount of unstructured data that resides on expensive SAN and NAS storage outside of IWM’s existing asset management system.

Spectra StorCycle identifies and automatically moves inactive data to a perpetual tier of storage, or archive, in order to make better use of capacity on the primary storage system. StorCycle scans the IWM departments’ primary storage for media file types older than two years and larger than 1GB, and moves them to the archive’s object storage disk and tape.

Spectra IWM IBC Innovation2

Through this system, multiple copies of the museums’ data are stored on different media, keeping it safe and accessible into the future. The final project gives IWM a digital archive that is reliable, scalable and cost-effective with automated data migration and longevity to help them store their data forever. spectralogic.com