Should Your DAM be in the Cloud? 3 Reasons Why It Should, 3 Reasons Why It Shouldn’t

Everyone’s looking to the cloud these days, and those interested in getting a DAM (Digital Asset Management) system are no exception. While there are many cloud-based DAM solutions available, and seemingly more each day, many organizations prefer to have their DAM on-premise. There are pros and cons for each approach, with many valid arguments for both sides.

But which one is right for your business? Choosing what will work best for your organization requires that you take a look at how the DAM will be used and whether short or long-term savings are more important to your organization. Some key elements to consider are the capacity your IT team has to take on a new system, where the users are located, and your total cost of ownership (TCO).

3 reasons why your DAM should be in the cloud
There are several reasons why a cloud system might be best for you. The top 3 include:

  1. No IT involvement.
  2. Nothing against the nice folks who work in IT, but with the cloud, you avoid being dependent on them in setting up the infrastructure for the DAM system and maintaining it. Let’s face it: if your IT department is already over-stretched, they might be hesitant to set up new technologies. Yet you need a robust DAM system; you want to be able to do new things with the capability to adapt as your business grows. These differing priorities might work against each other, causing friction. With cloud services you might not need to involve your IT staff at all, creating a smoother path toward implementing a DAM.

  1. A quicker start.
  2. Cloud solutions are the shortest path to joy. They are quicker to set up and cost less to get started. When deploying an on-premise DAM system, a new server usually needs to be ordered and set up; at the very least a new VM (Virtual Machine) needs to be provisioned, which takes longer than gaining access to a cloud account. Getting budget approval for an on-premise DAM can be more time-consuming, since they are typically more expensive than a cloud system, at least initially. Add the time waiting for installation or other services to get started, and it’s easy to see how going with a cloud solution will get you started more quickly.

  1. Flexible, low-obligation subscription pricing.
  2. Almost all cloud-based DAM services use subscription pricing. You don’t have to purchase an upfront software license, as most on-premise systems require. And since you only pay for what you use with a cloud service, these systems are typically less expensive at the start, and they make the cost of “turning on” additional features or capabilities easier to manage.

3 reasons why your DAM shouldn’t be in the cloud
There are several reasons why a cloud system might not be best for you. The top 3 include:

  1. Performance.
  2. If most of your users are in the same location, or they can connect remotely via VPN, then an on-premise system’s performance will be faster. Most popular cloud services (think CRM or accounting systems) just send bits of alphanumeric data up and down from the cloud. This is a tiny amount when compared with the files managed by DAM systems, which can be dozens, or even hundreds of megabytes each. When you have large amounts of data moving through your internet connection, especially when many people are doing it on a constant basis, an on-premise DAM system will work more efficiently. This is particularly true when you’re sharing files with others who work within the same building or corporate LAN as you do. You don’t want to be forced to increase the speed and capacity of your internet bandwidth to accommodate your DAM activity.

  1. Lower long-term cost.
  2. While a cloud-based DAM is less expensive at the start, an on-site DAM is more cost effective in the long term. This is true even after factoring in the hardware, storage, network capacity, staff time, and the other expenses required to maintain an on-premise system. Any organization getting a DAM system should plan on having it for at least five years. Typically an on-site system will be significantly less expensive than a cloud-based subscription service after two to three years. And the longer you keep the system, the greater the savings.

  1. Security.
  2. With cloud services, your level of security is completely dependent on your DAM cloud vendor. And this can vary dramatically. This presents an issue if the assets in your DAM require a high level of protection. While you might not have to be concerned about marketing materials that are ready for release, images and documents relating to unannounced products require tight security. Media companies that store their “crown jewels” in a DAM particularly need to keep them in an extremely secure environment.

There is a huge variety among both cloud-based and on-premise DAM systems. The ones that are right for you depend on your organization’s particular needs. But in the broad choice between cloud and on-premise, there are some very clear distinctions. Choosing the right one will go a long way in determining the overall success of the system.

While it makes sense for many systems to be cloud-based, large files sizes, the location of the users, and the long-term costs make it less of an automatic decision. Knowing the trade-offs between cloud-based DAMs and on-premise systems will make it easier for you to find the right match for your organization.

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