New open source DAM option emerges

New open source DAM option emerges

Illustration: The Guardian

The conversation about digital asset management (DAM) systems has always included three types of systems: Software-as-a-service (often called SaaS or Cloud-based), self-hosted, or open source.

Open source systems, while included on the list, are not seen as often in use — until now?

New open source DAM system

Last week, UK based newspaper the Guardian announced a new open source image management software called Grid. For details on Grid, see the project on Github.

Grid has been under construction for over a year and was developed as a solution when the media company recognized that they needed a modern system to help manage their growing digital asset collection.

After reviewing their internal needs and developing the list below, the Guardian staff explored SaaS options before deciding to build a system in-house.

  • Ingest and index all our images past, present and future
  • Very fast and powerful search
  • User upload, metadata editing, cropping, publishing of optimised assets
  • Rights management, historical usage records
  • Collaboration workflows
  • In-browser experience from anywhere
  • Integration with all our internal tools (Composer CMS, fronts editing tool, InDesign for print, etc)
  • Deployable to the AWS cloud

The Guardian team went with a custom option to manage their digital assets because as a media company, they have very specific DAM needs.

Types of DAM systems

Open source can seem like a very attractive option, given that the software doesn’t cost anything itself. Typically, there are additional costs in other areas, like security and information technology (IT) staff. The following information about the pros and cons of each type of DAM system comes from the DAM Basics page.

SaaS: Also known as cloud-based or web-based digital asset management, SaaS is delivered to you as a software package and you reach it over the internet. There is no hardware or servers for you to maintain. A good SaaS DAM system is scalable and can be accessed anytime by anyone with an internet connection. SaaS is a great place for a company on a limited budget to start using a ready-to-use DAM system. A couple of things to watch out for: Make sure you know if upgrades are included in the fees and what kind of support you can expect.

On-premise: This DAM system is purchased and installed on your hardware, meaning you provide the storage space and the machines to run the application. On-premise use is common among organizations that have special security needs for proprietary information. On-premise gives total control over to your internal IT team, and in turn requires a good amount of IT support. Things to consider include how your internal team will manage updates, backups, and making assets available to users as necessary.

Open source: This DAM system can be hosted by a third party or on-premise. Either way, the source code of the software is publicly available. Open-source software is typically developed in a public, collaborative manner, which can be a benefit when it comes to new feature development — but with a downside of less security. Keep in mind that open-source options will require a big commitment from your IT team.

Is open source for you?

It might be. If you are thinking about it, read Ralph Windsor’s article in DAM News, where he answers the question “should we do this ourselves?” The answer can be found the same process that the Guardian used when they decided they needed to build a DAM system — they examined internal workflows and use cases to determine their needs.

To start on that process, download the free resource “Find the DAM system that fits your needs with persona-based scenarios”.

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