ISO 14721:2012 defines the reference model for an open archival information system (OAIS). An OAIS is an archive, consisting of an organization, which may be part of a larger organization, of people and systems that has accepted the responsibility to preserve information and make it available for a designated community. It meets a set of such responsibilities as defined in this International Standard, and this allows an OAIS archive to be distinguished from other uses of the term archive. The term open in OAIS is used to imply that ISO 14721:2012, as well as future related International Standards, are developed in open forums, and it does not imply that access to the archive is unrestricted.
- provides a framework for the understanding and increased awareness of archival concepts needed for long term digital information preservation and access,
- provides the concepts needed by non-archival organizations to be effective participants in the preservation process,
- provides a framework, including terminology and concepts, for describing and comparing architectures and operations of existing and future archives,
- provides a framework for describing and comparing different Long Term Preservation strategies and techniques,
- provides a basis for comparing the data models of digital information preserved by archives and for discussing how data models and the underlying information may change over time,
- provides a framework that may be expanded by other efforts to cover long term preservation of information that is not in digital form (e.g. physical media and physical samples),
- expands consensus on the elements and processes for long term digital information preservation and access, and promotes a larger market which vendors can support, and
- guides the identification and production of OAIS-related standards.