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Declaration of the Directorate on the occasion of an IT malfunction

MfN Fassade

As a result of a technical malfunction, we are currently unable to access a central drive on which parts of our scientific data are also stored. The data on this storage system is currently inaccessible to us. Even a complete import of the blocked data from a back-up is not possible. The process of restoring access to this data has been started with external support, and an initial inventory is expected to last until mid-September.

We know that this period of uncertainty is particularly stressful for researchers whose data is blocked. We regret this very much. We will do everything we can to support each colleague individually. We have already taken appropriate steps.

There are questions about the causes of this disruption to which we do not have an answer at this stage. Knowing the complexity of the architecture of our IT system in the face of exponentially growing data volumes, we have carried out a careful analysis after the Museum's evaluation by the Leibniz Association. In this context, we have also considered the recommendations of the evaluation (3/2020). This applies in particular to the recommendation to outsource to external partners or jointly operate the hardware required for the infrastructure offerings as well as parts of the IT and scientific data management infrastructures.

Last summer, we completed this comprehensive analysis with the result that the IT and science data management infrastructure will be repositioned. Since then, firstly, all technical activities related to the IT infrastructure have been consolidated in a central IT unit. Furthermore, an external partner has been acquired for the management of the large amounts of data. This is the central step to guarantee robust data security and data management in the long term in the face of growing data volumes as a result of new, innovative research methods.

In March of this year, we started to transfer data. However, the speed with which the data is being transferred into a robust structure has not been sufficient to anticipate the current disruption.

We will work through all the processes that led to this disruption in order to learn from them and avoid errors with such consequences in the future. That is our homework for the coming weeks.

Our declared goal was and is to set up and maintain a robust IT infrastructure that can cope with the increasing amounts of data and its processing, including with AI methods. This goal remains unchanged.

We would like to thank our staff members for doing everything they can to contribute to a good solution during this for some of them very difficult period of time.

Stephan Junker | Johannes Vogel

Berlin, 23.08.2023