EMC donates Vatican storage of biblical proportions

Storage system is large enough to store 40 million pages of manuscript

EMC has donated a large storage system to the Vatican, which will use it to store digitized images of printed works, some of which are more than 600 years old.

The 2.8-petabyte storage system (a petabyte is 1 million gigabytes) is enough to store the entire Vatican Apostolic Library's 40 million pages of digitized manuscript. It will be used to store digital images of famous works such as the Gutenberg Bible, the first major book printed using a movable type press.

Printed between 1451 and 1455, there are only 48 copies of the Gutenberg Bible in existence.

EMC donated the Vatican data storage system under its Information Heritage Initiative, a nonprofit program aimed at preserving and making available digitally the world's information for future generations.

The Vatican Library's goal is to preserve in an ISO-certifiable digital format all of its delicate texts, which are vulnerable to deterioration and decay from repeated handling.

"The Apostolic Library contains some of the oldest texts in the world, that represents a priceless legacy of history and culture. It's very important that these documents are protected, and at the same time made available to scholars around the world," Monsignor Cesare Pasini, prefect for the Vatican Apostolic Library, said in a statement. "Thanks to the generosity and expertise of supporters such as EMC we are able to meet these goals, preserving a treasure-trove of rare and unique texts in a format that will not suffer from the passage of time."

In addition to the Gutenberg Bible, other manuscripts being digitized include:

  • The Sifra, a Hebrew manuscript written between the end of the 9th Century and the middle of the 10th,
  • Greek testimonies of the works of Homer, Sophocles, Plato and Hippocrates;
  • The incunabulum of Pius II's De Europa, printed by Albrecht Kunne around 1491;
  • The Code-B, one of the oldest remaining manuscripts of the Greek Bible, dated to the 4th Century.

EMC's Isilon scale-out NAS, Atmos object storage, Data Domain and NetWorker software backup and recovery products, as well as EMC's VNX midrange storage array will be deployed during the first three-year phase of the nine-year project.

EMC's previous Information Heritage projects include supporting the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum's process of digitizing and archiving its entire collection; creating a high-resolution, 3D digital reconstruction of Leonardo da Vinci's "Codex of Flight"; supporting the Herzogin Anna Amalia Library (Weimar, Germany), home to a collection of Faust first editions; and sponsoring the Vatican's Lux in Arcana exhibition, which brought 100 original historical documents from the Vatican Secret Archive into the public domain for the first time in 400 years in 2012.

"Where once knowledge and information would have been stored on the page, facilitated by the scriptoria or later the printing press, today EMC serves the same purpose through our storage technologies," Marco Fanizzi, EMC's country manager for Italy, said in a statement. "The collaboration with the Apostolic Library is an incredibly important project and will provide future generations with access to knowledge and insight that may otherwise have been lost."

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed. His e-mail address is lmearian@computerworld.com.

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Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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