Open Source DAM vs. Commodity Digital Asset Management Pricing

Digital asset management system in list view.

Digital asset management system in list view.

There is always discussion on various chat groups about saving money by using Open Source code for building your own digital asset management system (DAM). There was a time when IT departments were better staffed and funds for development projects were not limited – during this time, this made sense.

But today with DAM systems – especially a hosted DAM solution – at very low, almost commodity pricing, it does not make sense to build your own. Granted I work for a company that that has been in the digital asset management space for over 20 years, so my opinion might be a bit slanted.

With a home-grown system usually the IT person who built it, supports it. In previous times, people spent their entire careers at a single company, but that is more the exception these days. So when the developer leaves, what happens to the DAM support? Either someone else needs to learn it, if there is good documentation, or worse case, reverse-engineer it. I know this because we have been called in to help reverse engineer a system or two so that we could extract the metadata along with the data.

We’ve also found the person who “inherits” the system is less enthusiastic about answering trouble calls at 3 AM than its inventor may have been. What about 24×7 support? Granted that might not always be a requirement, but say the company is a non-profit organization with a global reach. Is there someone on staff to support the system for every different time zone, even if it’s in the middle of the night local time? With a hosted digital asset management system (or at least ours) the support is always available.

What happens as new file types emerge? Does the IT person have to research open source tools (if they exist) that allow supporting these files and spend more time implementing those tools? Is this the only thing he/she has going on? If not how long does the end-user have to wait to be able to ingest the new file types?

With a hosted DAM from a company that has been in the DAM business for years, file type updates happen regularly. We have internal resources to add the new support as the file types emerge as new trends or as customers make the request.

Of course with the home-grown (and for that matter any in-house) system, comes the need to purchase hardware, pay hardware support and eventually add storage and migrate to newer faster hardware. Also, is your home-grown system fault-tolerant, replicating data to other hardware so your users are never down if a computer fails? No worries if your system is in a (at least our) hosted environment.

Last, but far from least, a system that has been in use for years, by hundreds of organizations, has benefited from many suggestions on adding features to help people work better. Rolling your own system limits you to the best ideas within your own company. Going with a system that has evolved for a decade lets you benefit from the best ideas of many bright people. Why not take advantage of that?

So with a great hosted DAM system available, at extremely reasonable monthly pricing, aren’t your resources better spent on other projects rather than re-inventing the wheel?

Posted by Rande Simpson

Leave a Reply