DSpace is the software of choice for academic, non-profit, and commercial organizations building open digital repositories. It is free and easy to install “out of the box” and completely customizable to fit the needs of any organization.
DSpace preserves and enables easy and open access to all types of digital content including text, images, moving images, mpegs and data sets. And with an ever-growing community of developers, committed to continuously expanding and improving the software, each DSpace installation benefits from the next.
Teqcle and DSpace
Teqcle Information Technologies (Pty) Ltd have always been a stout supporter of Open Source Software. Teqcle was founded in 2006, born out of UNISA where our members were fundamentally involved with the genesis of My UNISA, which uses Sakai. We became so involved with this product, that one of our members (Johan van den Berg) was named a Sakai Fellow in 2006. Upon creation of our company, we continued to support multiple instances of Sakai, and were asked to also support DSpace, which is an open source repository, and like Sakai is a J2EE application. Teqcle performed the investigation into DSpace in 2008, and have been supporting both of these products ever since.
But supporting the software is just part of the product. The hosting and maintenance of DSpace as well as the operating system that it is hosted on is also extremely important. Being a J2EE application, DSpace runs on a Java Servlet engine called Tomcat. Having the ability to monitor and manipulate this engine is a skill that Teqcle learned a long time ago by performing tuning operations on large J2EE installations. Understanding these technologies is paramount to proper Java development, another skill that Teqcle has been performing since before its inception.
DSpace is a J2EE application consisting of many programs and providing a user interface for functionality including administration, deposit, ingest, search, access control and statistics. It provides an associated metadata store utilising either a PostgreSQL or an Oracle database. The asset store is maintained on a filesystem by default, but other mechanisms are also possible. Current versions of DSpace support faceted search and browse functionaly through the use of Apache Solr.
It is highly configurable and extendable and can be customised to a very large degree.
There is a REST API available in current versions, as well as various other proprietary integration options like “DSpace Simple Archive Format.”
DSpace is best hosted on a Linux platform, which is also open source and free and has a great reputation for security and availability as well as reduced hardware overheads. It is the operating system of choice for DSpace. Teqcle has been hosting Sakai and DSpace instances as well as eMail, Websites and DNS on Centos (a flavour of Linux) since our inception, accomplishing fantastic results in terms of security and availability.
For reasons of availability, it is best to host an application in a certified Data Centre. Teqcle has been hosting J2EE (and other) applications utilising the hosting offerings from Xneelo (previously Hetzner) since 2006, and have received excellent support from this provider. We have built up a credible reputation for hosting these sites in terms of both availability and security.
Teqcle will provide installation, hosting, technical support and maintenance as standard. A mixture of these can be provided as well.
Installation and Hosting
Teqcle will acquire a self managed, dedicated server for you through Xneelo. We will proceed to install a Centos operating system, and add our security enhancements to that server. Next comes the installation of DSpace and all of its pre-requisite software. We will customise the look and feel of DSpace to portray your brand.
We will add this instance of DSpace to our monitoring system, which monitors resource utilisation and availability, as well as adding it to our off-site backup solution. This backup solution will back up the database as well as the application, including all of its requirements, on a daily basis to a server at a geographically disparate location. The manner in which we have structured this solution provides disaster recovery in as much as we would be able to restore functionality of the site, in case of a disaster, within a very short period of time (time is dependant on the time taken to copy the data). DNS registration and configuration is performed by the customer as we assume that you already own a domain, but we can either help if required, or provide it if there is no domain registered.
Technical Support and Maintenance
With many years of systems administration experience, Teqcle is well positioned to maintain the system once it is in production. This maintenance includes patching the operating system and keeping it secure, ensuring that the backups are successfully completed, ensuring that the application is not exhausting resources and monitoring the logs for problems as well as intrusion detection. From this we will implement intrusion prevention mechanisms as well as ensure that your system is in a healthy state. If the server hosting the application exhausts its resources, then we have upgrade paths that can be followed.
Teqcle has always provided excellent customer service. We have always kept this on a personal level, and prefer a phone call to a ticket, but we will also respond to emails, whatsapps and SMS’s. Our default contract includes an 8 working hour response SLA, but we have always beaten that.
As a part of technical support, Teqcle can also provide training in the use of DSpace, and can consult on current best practises with regards to DSpace utilisation.
With our deep understanding of the DSpace application, including its undocumented features, Teqcle has the ability to customise your instance of DSpace as per your requirement. We will always try to develop in such a way as to not interfere with application upgrades, but will do so if absolutely necessary. Below are some examples of the enhancements that we have developed.
Teqcle has performed integrations between DSpace and other Research Management Systems whereby when an item is created or updated on the RMS, it is automatically created / updated on DSpace, and published through that.
Stream Embeded Videos
If videos files are part of the item being viewed, then these are automatically detected and injected into the view to allow streaming of the video to the browser. If there are subtitle files for these videos, then this is also included.
SAML / ADFS Authentication
Teqcle has developed an authentication mechanism for DSpace to authenticate against an institution’s ADFS server using SAML. We were the first (and still only) in the world to do this, and have assisted an institution is Columbia with enabling their DSpace instance to authenticate against their ADFS server using our code.
Completely changing the look and feel of the vannila DSpace installation,Teqcle can provide a highly customised instance of DSpace, not simply changing the look and feel, but also the functionality.
Put your statistics on the map. Both for item views and file downloads. You can even download your statistics in CSV format.
Teqcle has developed a string of tools that reside external to DSpace, but that integrate closely with it. The reason that this method of development was chosen, is that when DSpace gets upgraded, the tools that perform these external tasks do not need to be upgraded, or if they do, then it is only if the database structure of DSpace has changed. An example of this is our citation generator.
Through a cron job that runs at regular intervals, this script will iterate over the entire repository, finding any item that does not have a citation attached. It will then extract the required data from the database, build and store a citation based on the customer specification. Even better, we have allowed for multiple citations to be generated, currently for “Harvard”, “APA” , “Chicago” and “Vancouver” standards. The required citation is selectable via a dropdown selector. Also included is the ability to download an RIS formatted file of the information.
Teqcle has altered the search interface to utilise the filtering mechanism in a much more user-friendly fashion. We have also added non-standard filtering facets.