Code Crackers:
Enquizit and the National Archives and Record Administration (NARA)

Code crackers: you may have seen them in a documentary, TV show, or movie, working against time to break a code. Whether it’s an archaeologist trying to unlock an ancient vault or an intel officer seeking to crack an enemy cipher, code crackers use mathematic and scientific wizardry to unravel mysteries once considered unsolvable.

You might be tempted to think that code crackers are only in movies. Turns out, they’re alive and well. One recent case involves the rescue team at Enquizit and the National Archives and Record Administration (NARA).

NARA is locked out of its new platform

First, a little background. Over a decade ago, NARA set out to bring federal record-keeping into the digital age. The agency began by setting up the Electronic Records Archives (ERA) program to receive and store records from the White House, Congress, and federal agencies: some 900 terabytes in all. There was only one problem. The platform they built, ERA 2.0, was unable to “speak” the data language of the legacy apps NARA used on a daily basis, rendering it useless. It was as if the agency had purchased an expensive new smartphone only to find it could not use it.

To make matters worse, no one at NARA knew what source code or technologies had been used to build its old systems. The only documentation was for the new system, ERA 2.0. It was going to have to be enough. They hired Enquizit with a clear mission: “unlock” ERA 2.0 to allow the legacy data to fit into the new system.

Step one: Discovery

Enquizit’s code crackers began with a discovery phase. Over a three-month period, its rescue team undertook a high-level examination of each system’s features and functionalities to determine why they weren’t “talking” to each other. This painstaking, in-depth analysis required moving step by step, field by field. Only once this analysis was complete could Enquizit provide NARA with a list of which applications could remain and how one format could be converted to the other.

But this was just the first step. To find out how the Enquizit code crackers ultimately succeeded in making ERA 2.0 viable, read our e-book, Unlocking the Code: How Enquizit Helped the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Migrate to a New Digital Records System


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