Hydra as a Digital Asset Management System

We are currently looking for a solution to store the different forms of digital objects/assets that are generated by various researchers/academics/departments/faculties at Lancaster University. The traditional repository model does not feel like it is best suited to accommodate the ever expanding range of digital assets. We are talking about Research Data, Digitised objects, Open Educational Resources, Video and Audio files, Software packages, etc. So we started looking into other appropriate solutions.

From my previous experience, I remember Fedora was designed for this very purpose. The hint is in the name, Flexible Extensible Digital Object Repository Architecture. We are really keen on the flexible and extensible aspects. However, experience has also taught me that Fedora can become very complex to manage very quickly. Something, we at Lancaster, can’t afford at this time with our limited resources.

At the same time, we are also looking into two wrappers/solutions on top of Fedora, aptly named as Hydra and Islandora. Hydra is based on Rails (Ruby) whereas Islandora is based on Drupal (Php). Considering we have expertise in neither (we are primarily a Django/Python shop), we are open to both solutions, or something else completely. Between Hydra and Islandora, however, it seems like Hydra has a more mature user base, development partners, and more major players involved in supporting it. At the moment, Hull and LSE are development partners for Hydra in the UK, which is also a plus point.

Hull has very kindly agreed to talk to us about Hydra in a few days time. Some of us will go there and speak to them about what Hydra can do for Lancaster, and hopefully take it from there. Not to forget, we are also an Alma customer and Alma Digital (Alma-D) is also evolving considerably and may provide a solution in the future.

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