Current state of play: records management and the cloud

Publication Date13 July 2010
Date13 July 2010
AuthorKatharine Stuart,David Bromage
SubjectInformation & knowledge management
Current state of play: records
management and the cloud
Katharine Stuart and David Bromage
National Archives of Australia, Canberra, Australia
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to describe the current environment of, and challenges for,
managing and storing records and information in “the cloud”.
Design/methodology/approach The approach was based on the authors’ experience of the
challenges facing records management gained through the authors’ interaction with public and private
organisations. Observations of the way the web has changed the conduct of business and what using
“the cloud” to store information means for records management. Included is some practical advice on
how records managers can cope with the risk associated from using “the cloud”.
Findings – The key findings highlight that as organisations are changing the way they conduct
business by including “web 2.0” and “the cloud” into their way of working, records management needs
to be aware of the risks. The incorporation of “the cloud” into the way organisations conduct business,
should not be based on a technological decision, but should be based on a decision examining risk to
an organisation’s information.
Originality/value – This paper is beneficial in raising awareness of the potential risks and benefits
associated with managing and storing information online, specifically in “the cloud”. However, this
paper aims to not dissaude organisations in their use of web technologies, but to emphasise the
involvement needed by records managers in the formation of policies, education and risk analysis for
any system or space designed to manage or store information and records.
Keywords Records management, Digital storage
Paper type Viewpoint
Why is the world wide web (the web) perceived as different today against ten years
ago? What are we doing in the web now that we were not doing previously? Records
professionals around the globe are asking these very questions and with the current
catchphrase of “web 2.0” resounding in our ears, it is becoming clear that the web is not
only changing the way we work, it is also changing the way we interpret records and
organisational documentation. While it is acknowledged that records are being created
by, for, within and outside an organisation’s traditional control and purpose, the
management of these records can now solely be held in the realm of what is known as
“the cloud”. However, what is “the cloud” and is it a safe haven for an organisation’s
records or will it be responsible for possible legal wrangling and messy data loss? All
of these are unwanted headaches for the often harried records professional.
How are we using the web?
Amazingly, the way the web is being used today is being driven by users and not, as in
times past, by publishers or technologists. As such, for the users, the web and what it
can do for the user will only improve over time. The downside of this virtual revolution
is that because these tools are permeating not only our personal lives but also our
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
Current state
of play
Received 17 February 2010
Revised 28 April 2010
Accepted 10 May 2010
Records Management Journal
Vol. 20 No. 2, 2010
pp. 217-225
qEmerald Group Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/09565691011064340

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