Sun Microsystems and Stanford University Protect Online Materials Around The World

October 17, 2001

Sun Microsystems, Inc. (NASDAQ:SUNW) and Stanford University announced their joint undertaking, the LOCKSS (Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe) program — designed to protect the integrity of valuable electronic content, is performing well in large-scale tests at the 47 locations around the world where it has been deployed.

A product of an eighteen-month collaboration between Stanford Libraries and Sun, the program has shown great potential to solve the increasingly urgent problem of maintaining permanent access to electronic data, whose sustainability would otherwise remain vulnerable to data corruption, neglect or abuse.

In time, the system may also prove useful in protecting data without cryptography or firewalls and shows signs of viability for commercial application.

“The concept behind the LOCKSS program is to build a reliable, resistant system that does not rely on secrets — technology such as cryptography or firewalls,” said David Rosenthal, distinguished engineer, Sun Microsystems. “Instead, the program is based on the theory that a greater number of good data sources can overwhelm bad data delivered by any one or more ‘rogues’ in the system. In this way, the program is akin to a neighborhood watch — if all members of a neighborhood are vigilant, they are likely to spot and report unusual activity to the authorities.”

Currently, a total of 45 libraries and 53 publishers worldwide, including the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences and the British Medical Association, are utilizing the Sun- and Stanford-developed online archiving program to protect materials published on the Internet. Libraries helping to test the LOCKSS system include The Library of Congress, The British Library, Harvard University, University of California Berkeley, Cambridge University, University of Goettingen, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Hong Kong University of Science & Technology and National University of Singapore. A full list is available at

Advancing Science and Medicine by Ensuring Access to Research and Ideas

“The content in Science Online is extremely important to researchers and scholars,” said Michael Spinella, director of membership, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). “Our online content provides special enhancements and links that are not available in print. Preserving both the text and these unique characteristics of online works is critical to scholars’ ability to conduct research efficiently. Maintaining the integrity of online documents is a more difficult problem than merely archiving text. We participate in several digital archiving experiments, but the LOCKSS program shows the greatest promise to protect and preserve the full functionality of online documents.”

The AAAS publishes the journal Science and its digital version Science Online ( Science Online is an essential resource for science news and research from around the world. (, published by the British Medical Association, contains the full text of articles published in the weekly British Medical Journal since January 1994 as well as an increasing amount of material that is unique to the site. The site serves 75,000 distinct users each week.

“We want to help doctors everywhere practice better medicine and to be at the forefront of international debates on health,” said Tony Delamothe, editor of “Maintaining long-term security and integrity of our materials is crucial to those objectives. The LOCKSS program is unique in being able to provide this for us, and at a price we can afford.”

Maintaining Integrity

Based on Java™ technology, the LOCKSS system is an open-source, distributed system, designed to run on low-cost computers without central administration. Participating computers continually poll among themselves to monitor files on their hard disks at random intervals. If files have been corrupted or altered, an autonomous caching system replaces them with intact copies. Individual libraries can also monitor the level of redundancy within the system.

The LOCKSS project is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Science Foundation (NSF), Stanford University Libraries and Sun Microsystems. It was initiated in May 2000 and includes sites at 41 universities. More information about LOCKSS can be found at

About Stanford University Libraries

Stanford University Libraries & Academic Information Resources supports the teaching, learning and research mandates of the University through delivery of bibliographic and other information resources and services to faculty, student and staff. It is tackling the challenges of the digital age, especially pertaining to scholarly communication and research libraries, while continuing the development, preservation and conservation of its extensive print, media and manuscript collections. LOCKSS is one of its several efforts to assure the long-term persistence and utility of information resources both analog and digital.

About Sun Microsystems, Inc.

Since its inception in 1982, a singular vision — The Network Is The Computer™ — has propelled Sun Microsystems, Inc., to its position as a leading provider of industrial-strength hardware, software and services that power the Internet and allow companies worldwide to take their businesses to the nth. Sun can be found in more than 170 countries and on the World Wide Web at

NOTE: Sun, the Sun logo, Sun Microsystems, Solaris and Java are trademarks or registered trademarks of Sun Microsystems, Inc. in the United States and in other countries. All SPARC trademarks are used under license and are trademarks or registered trademarks of SPARC International, Inc. in the United States and other countries. Products bearing SPARC trademarks are based upon an architecture developed by Sun Microsystems, Inc. UNIX is a registered trademark in the United States and other countries exclusively licensed through X/Open Company, Ltd.