From my travels:

I recently returned from a five week European holiday, I travelled through France, Germany and Scotland. I could talk about how much fun I had, all the good places I visited or where to have a quiet ale and good bottle of red, but you probably don’t want to hear all that why you’re stuck in the office. So instead I thought I’d talk about something the European companies do so well ‘archiving and documenting their history’. The two companies that I came into contact with while travelling that I feel do this really well are: Mercedes/ Daimler and Oban Distillery.

Mercedes/Daimler Museum in Stuttgart

Firstly this building was beautiful, Mercedes have put a lot of time, effort and thought into presenting their history. They have done it in a way that shows all aspects: the car, Germany and how it all grew together. One of my favourite parts of the Mercedes Museum was their custom exhibitions on the models that had reached a milestone birthday.

Highlights from Mercedes museum

  • Seeing a replica Benz Patent-Motorwagen (worlds first car);
  • Reading the history of the mergers, partnerships and splits; which transformed a basic small company into one of the largest conglomerates in the world;
  • Seeing the history of Mercedes racing and how many prototypes never made it into production. The amount of time and effort that has gone into what could have been “the next big thing” was amazing.

Oban Distillery

Oban is a very small town on the west coast of Scotland interestingly the distillery in this town was built first, with the town being built around it at a later point. This makes the distillery very unique as through out its history it has had to live with the challenge of the town taking up the majority of the land it would of used for expansion.

Highlights from Oban’s museum

  • It was founded in 1794 which makes it one of the oldest still running distillery in the world
  • It has been rebuilt twice but kept its stills to the same speck so the scotch could maintain its flavour.
  • Tasting 10-year-old scotch straight out of the bar barrel to see what difference the extra 4 years gives to Obans (normal aging point of 14 years).

What you can do.

Mercedes and Oban were the two companies on my trip that out of the many museums/old buildings/pubs that I saw presented there archives really well. They could do this and use all their history and knowledge because their archiving and policy’s were setup correctly from the start. This made me think about the value of archiving data and of having a rich collection of history to refer to when you’re planning the future.

But like Mercedes and Oban Distillery, not all history needs to be kept, and what is kept should be stored in a special location. In the world of data storage this means moving what is not being recently accessed to a location that is has large capacity, and low cost.

This is not a new theme, but what has changed recently is that the economics of long-term data archival have dramatically changed with the launch of Amazon Web Services Glacier.  At 1 cent per GB/per month, Glacier provides unlimited capacity for the long-term storage of valuable data. Previously only a service available in overseas regions, AWS new Sydney region Glacier provides 11 nines of durability, meaning that like the Oban distillery, it is there for the long haul.

The added benefit of storing your long-term data in AWS is that, should you want to be able to mine your companies history, to predict or plan for the future, you can use EC2 to spin up compute resources in a moments notice. The key to making this all work is joining what you have on-premise, to the cloud, and having a policy, and automated process to send, and also if needed retrieve information stored inside Glacier.

So regardless of your size, there are no excuses to not start an archiving policy! Because who knows, in 50 years your /company /building /pub may be big enough to setup a museum like Mercedes have and you want to be able to find this information quickly.