By: Le'Mina McNair on February 12th, 2019
The Benefits of a Cloud-Based DAM System
Cloud-based solutions for digital asset management (DAM) are becoming increasingly common among companies of all sizes and industries. The main difference between a cloud-based DAM and an on-premises solution is the infrastructure: Will you host the system on your own servers and hardware, or use someone else's?
The implications of this simple question may be the deciding factor in determining the correct DAM system for your business. In this article, we'll discuss both the benefits and drawbacks of using a cloud-based DAM solution.
What Is the Cloud?
Let's start with the basics and work our way up: The cloud is a network of remote servers that hosts your data and applications and provides them to you via the Internet. Most cloud services are accessible via a standard web browser.
Large public clouds, such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, have networks of servers distributed all around the world. This ensures that there's as little latency as possible when accessing the content you need, no matter where you're located.
Why Get a DAM Solution?
While there are many use cases for DAM technologies, marketing teams tend to benefit the most from them. Marketing content is comprised of a wealth of digital media, from infographics to videos. Marketers have to keep track of a ton of digital content, and it's extremely difficult to do that without a proper DAM solution in place. Most of the time, DAM goes hand-in-hand with content management because, as your organization grows, so does the sheer volume of graphics, one-pagers, ebooks, and other similar assets. If you invest in a robust DAM solution, your content creators will thank you, and you'll thank yourself for making them more efficient. There are other use cases for DAM technologies, but it's practically a must-have for a marketing team.
With those items out of the way, we can move on to the bigger questions.
Why the Shift to Cloud Based DAMs?
Cloud-based DAM technologies have many of the same advantages as other cloud computing solutions, including:
- Low start-up costs: Cloud-based DAM solutions are typically easier, quicker, and cheaper to deploy. As a subscription-based operating expense, cloud-based DAM systems are more convenient for many businesses than an on-premises solution, which is a one-time capital expense.
- Scalability: Instead of having to anticipate any future data growth, you can start off small and have your cloud-based DAM grow with you.
- Accessibility: Cloud-based DAM solutions are accessible from anywhere with an Internet connection and a web browser.
- Security: Public cloud services such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure treat security as a top priority, which means that you don't have to handle this critical concern yourself.
- Updates: On-premises DAM systems require scheduled downtime to be updated. Typically, this can only happen outside of peak periods or on a weekend. Because of this, it often means you can easily become several versions behind. With a cloud-based DAM system, software updates are pushed out automatically during scheduled maintenance windows, ensuring all users are on the latest release.
The Advantages of a Cloud-Based DAM
Most organizations are rapidly accumulating digital assets: The average company now manages 163 terabytes (163,000 gigabytes) of data. You need a database that can grow alongside your business. Cloud-based systems make it easy to scale the storage and processing power you need for your DAM solution based on how much you use it.
Ease of installation
Cloud-based DAM solutions can be quickly set up by an IT department or someone familiar with the organization's systems. Installation does not require a great deal of in-depth IT knowledge. Keeping track of the digital content that you put into your DAM system will probably be more difficult than setting it up.
Accessibility from anywhere
Distributed teams and remote workers will find it much easier to collaborate using a cloud-based DAM solution. All employees can have instant access to the assets they require, no matter their location.
With the recent shift towards remote work, this is a massive argument in favor of moving digital assets to the cloud. Whether it's the marketing team storing media or the accounting team searching for a specific spreadsheet, a cloud-based dam solution usually benefits remote workers more than an on-premises one does. Remote access to an on-premises DAM system generally requires a VPN, and that's a challenge in and of itself.
Cloud-based digital asset management solution vendors apply multiple layers of security to protect their customers. However, note that not all DAM vendors are equal. Some vendors may advertise that they have attained all security certifications, but it may only be the platform they use that's in compliance (and not their own software). Make sure to do your research before choosing a DAM provider.
There's no need to purchase replacement hardware and software for a cloud-based DAM solution as there would be for an on-premises solution. Cloud-based DAM solutions are typically less expensive to implement. In addition, you only pay for the storage and power you need, and can quickly scale up or down. Obviously, digital asset management pricing is going to be subject to numerous variables, but, on the whole, cloud-based options are cheaper to operate.
The Problems with a Cloud-Based DAM Technologies
The performance of cloud-based digital asset management solutions depends largely on the speed of the Internet connection between the vendor and the customer. This can cause issues when working with large files such as videos.
It should be pointed out that an on-premises solution only outperforms a cloud-based competitor if your business is all conducted on-site. A remote workforce has to use the Internet to connect to your DAM system whether it runs on the cloud or in your server room.
Large enterprise customers often require a degree of customization that isn't possible with most cloud solutions. In many cases, the only customizations possible are what the vendor authorizes (such as changing the color scheme or adding a logo).
With an on-premises solution, on the other hand, you may access the solution's back end and add additional code to achieve a higher level of customization.
If your servers go down, you may not be able to access your data in the cloud with an unstable Internet connection. This can cause increased downtime and delays when recovering from the disaster.
When restoring your data from the cloud after a disaster, you'll need to take into account the time it takes to download. This will incur additional costs while your employees sit idle and your customers are unable to access your services. If you have any mission-critical data, you need to store it somewhere that facilitates easy and rapid retrieval.
Some platforms may charge you for retrieving data, and this process may have a lead time (unless you pay more for expedited retrieval). For example, Amazon Web Services has two main cloud storage options: S3 and S3 Glacier. The latter is typically used for archives, and is less expensive on a per-terabyte basis. However, you'll have to pay to retrieve that data, and there might be a delay of several hours before you can start the process.
Although cloud-based DAM solutions are becoming more and more common, on-premises solutions are still used in certain situations. For example, on-premises DAM solutions are common in the agency world and for those specializing in videos or other large files. Other companies may have to physically store their data in a particular location or region (e.g., the European Union) due to compliance or regulatory reasons.
Cloud vs. On-Premises DAMs: What's Right for You?
When choosing between a DAM solution in the cloud or on-premises, a number of factors come into play: budget, security, size, accessibility, Internet speed, etc.
For many IT departments, the idea of control is most important. The fact that an on-premises solution is physically available in a room in their office is the deciding factor in favor of on-premises. In addition, an on-premises solution is truly yours once you purchase it; there aren't any subscription fees you have to pay every month. However, the IT department also has to expend more resources to properly manage and care for an on-premises system, which can add strain to their workload.
Either an on-premises DAM or cloud-based solution may be more cost-effective, depending on the pricing structure of your chosen vendor. You may be charged per user, or per the different modules or functionality you select. Before making the final decision, do the math to find out what's best for your unique situation.
Get Creative with Your Cloud
Although cloud-based DAMs have a variety of advantages, they're not the perfect fit for every organization. If you have questions about how to implement your next DAM solution, we're here to help. Contact us for a consultation about your business goals and requirements. To learn more about how to improve your digital asset management, read our free guide here.
Our newest offering, IO Space™, offers a speedy solution tailored toward creative teams looking to benefit from Cloud 2.0. To learn more about IO Space™, download our free eBook, "Moving Creative Operations to the Cloud with IO Space™."