You’ve decided to use Digital Asset Management because you know it will save you and your team a lot of time and headaches in the future. In your search for the right tool, almost immediately you’re faced with sorting out whether a local (purchased and kept on your company servers) or cloud SAAS (software as a service subscription/hosted) DAM will best fit your needs. Servers are the heartbeat of any company no matter where your assets are kept.
In this post we’re going to talk about comparisons between Locally hosted and Cloud hosted DAM. A few terms I use in this post are interchangeable: Software | Apps or Applications | Tools
Local | Servers | On premise
No matter the size of your company, you might own, lease space on, or rent servers where your company self hosts software. If you plan to keep your DAM local you’ll be buying a license or subscription and installing it on your server. That means your team is responsible for everything. Users. Updates. Patches. Bugs. Server space. Storage.
Care and Feeding of Your DAM
You’ll manage how your team will connect remotely. Control over your software purchase means managing privacy and security concerns no matter where your staff is located, including full data ownership and management. Local servers are not immune to attacks but less so than SAAS. Your DAM security is in the hands of your IT department.
Expense of Your DAM
Costs for local DAM implementation are significantly higher than SAAS because you will shoulder each step of the implementation. Even if you have a consultant train you as part of your implementation and have lifetime technical support, the hand off eventually puts everything in your lap.
Growth of Your DAM
Scaling a system as a company grows is a consideration lots of companies don’t plan for which can turn into what might feel like a whole new implementation. Part of scaling is storage consideration and customization. As your asset libraries grow your storage needs will grow too and almost as soon as you start using a system you’re going to find things you wish it did better.
If your DAM isn’t able to customize to some degree, you may not be happy. The good news is that a locally hosted DAM is more likely to be one that has better customization capabilities than SAAS does. This is because you’ve bought a license and have control over front and back end with talented IT.
On premise hosting is one aspect where storage, if not planned well, can be time consuming as you try to catch up to asset and content development which tends to grow very fast.
Putting it too simply, if you’ve had to swap out a phone in the last few years because all those images, videos, memes, downloaded documents, and gifs took up too much space; it’ll be like that on a much, much larger scale.
On Premise | Local DAM Summary
On premise hosting is a capital expense. You’re buying hardware to put the software on, paying your team to manage, maintain, update, customize, and back up your DAM, your security is as strong as your IT department, and scaling could feel like a whole new implementation.
Cloud | SAAS
Cloud applications are exceedingly popular. 80% of companies looking for software expect to have cloud options among their choices. You’re using cloud apps right now. A concern for companies considering using cloud software continues to be security. It’s something to think about, however, finding a trusted company will mitigate that concern to almost the same level of having a trusted IT team in your company.
Take Security Seriously | Find Tools You Trust
Having said that, everything security wise is still dependent on security around servers. Cloud software is still on servers, they’re servers that are connected directly to the internet vs being inside your company walls. Cloud servers are hosted, maintained by SAAS vendors including the coding and databases that make the software.
When it comes to security, it’s pretty certain thanks to companies like Google, Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, and Twitter, all the data you have ever put in any form online is residing in their hands for their use at any given time. Remember the Experian (2012), Equifax (2017) data breaches? No? That’s because we’re programmed (quite literally) to forget that our data is the commodity of almost every company and is exposed to breaches all the time.
You can find a list of identity breaches for 2021 (so far) over on Identity Force's website. I’m not affiliated and get no benefit from you heading over there to read about them.
Storage with SAAS is a matter of buying more and having almost immedaite access to your new space.
No Wifi | Internet Down No Access
If you don’t have access to internet, you don’t have access to your DAM. Granted, if you don’t have access to power you don’t have access to your self hosted servers unless you have great backup power (more costs), but losing wifi or internet access is more common and has to be something you think about.
SAAS costs and convenience
SAAS is an operational expense. It’s convenient, fast to implement (because you’re not really implementing except for training and user set up). The costs are significantly less than Locally hosted software because you have substantially less expense in hardware and other tools to support your servers.
Growth of your SAAS DAM
SAAS software tends to be less customizable. While the Cloud tool you use might be highly configurable, customization is limited to the features the vendor builds into the software.
Customization is taken seriously by SAAS companies and predictions for the industry show that vertical SAAS has the potential to provide companies with the ability to customize some features. At the moment, vertical means vendors will build for specific industries and horizontal (current SAAS models) tend to try to cover as many options 'out of the box' as possible which can be frustrating for companies.
A few more words about security
I’m not a pessimist about the security concerns I hope you take seriously. I am a skeptic, a realist, practical thinker who understands that anything we put online is subject to being captured by some entity we may never know about; good or bad.
It’s a trade off. You give your phone number out for various reasons, your zip code or phone number are used to give you rewards when you buy coffee or groceries or plane tickets.
Your driver license is scanned and used as a primary source of identification, think about how many times you used it in the last couple of years to prove you are you. You try to keep your social security number and passport information private but it is less and less certain that is possible.
Cloud | SAAS DAM Summary
Using SAAS is an operational expense. A Cloud DAM will be more convenient, will cost you less to implement and will save you time in team hours and when it comes to starting to use the software. With good reasearch and potentially using a try before you buy period, you'll have the best chance of success.
Risks vs risks. So when it comes to deciding on the DAM your company needs, and you’ve considered all the things we’ve talked about in this post, find a company you trust, will give you stellar support, has a transparent support and service agreement and ask them for some client references so you can ask more questions about their processes. Consider trying their software before buying, it will add a layer and some time to your plan but could pay off big in the long run.