In search of a perfect enterprise Digital Asset Management system – Part 2

On-premises Hosting (content is hosted within the organisation)


At DIW, we advocate hosting your images, videos, documents (digital assets) within your organisation or in a private cloud. However, implementing an on-premises enterprise DAM system may  not be suitable for every organisation because of lacking of IT support team. In addition, you need to have your own IT infrastructure team to maintain the computer servers and networks.


If  the DAM system is meant for only a handful of users and the total storage space required is e.g. 500GB, we would suggest you go for cloud hosting (also commonly known as Software-as-a-Service – SaaS). That is, the digital assets are hosted with the DAM vendor. There are many DAM vendors offering cloud hosting. You can always find one that offers Basic or Starter plan.


However, if you intend for hundreds or thousands of users from several departments to use the DAM system and the storage space required is e.g. 10TB, cloud hosting can be more expensive than on-premises hosting.


Based on Capterra, a site that lists many business software applications, 214 software applications are categorised as Digital Asset Management software as of Feb 2020. Out of 214, only 48 of them provide on-premises deployment option. In other words, most of them are cloud-based.


This does not come as a surprise to us because this is where the trend is heading. Most importantly, this is where the money is.


Here comes the interesting part. Out of these 48 applications, many of them clearly should not be classified as DAM software. They are mainly marketing-centric applications.


Since Digital Asset Management (DAM) is a buzzword nowadays, it is not surprising that many software vendors want to have a share of the pie. It is quite common to see software that were developed for other purposes, e.g., web content management system, museum collection management system, knowledge management system, highlight this statement in their marketing materials, “We have a Digital Asset Management module”.  However, the proclaimed DAM module is often nothing more than just an enhanced folder/file system.


In our opinion, a true DAM system should have these functions as listed in this open specification


After filtering out those self-proclaimed DAM software and those that are targeting single users, like photographers, we visited the websites of the rest, one by one. On top of that, we cross-referenced with materials found in DAM Vendors, Real Story Group, Planet DAM, and online non-marketing documentations provided by the DAM vendors.


We came across a few “well-known” DAM systems during our research. Some of them have been around for nearly 20 years. They all have on-premises deployment option.  They were designed to be installed locally within the organisation because development of a pure web application was still in the infancy stage at that time.


However, we are reluctant to recommend these systems because there is a limit to how much their functionality can improve based on the legacy architecture design. Some of them are aware of the limitations too.  Hence, they decided to create a new fully web-based DAM system. Unfortunately, they have also decided that the new systems are meant for cloud deployment / SaaS only and will not be a replacement of the legacy on-premises systems. . Hence, it is not difficult to see that the support for the existing legacy on-premises system will be dropped off eventually once the vendors have successfully persuaded majority of the customers to migrate over to the cloud.


Continue in part 3.