Cloud DAM vs. Installed On-Premise

Cloud-based digital asset management offers benefits that installed software doesn’t offer. The opposite, of course, is also true. This leaves organizations unsure which option is best for them, and fearful they could make the wrong choice.

Don’t Decide too Soon

Organizations are often forced to choose between Cloud and installed digital asset management too soon for one simple reason: Most DAM vendors offer only one option.

The problem is that until you’ve spent time analyzing your DAM needs, you won’t know which DAM deployment model is best for you. In some cases, the choice will be easy. But when the wrong choice is made, it can derail your DAM initiative fast.

When Cloud DAM is Best

No IT support or infrastructure – If you won’t have support from IT professionals, or you don’t have server hardware suitable for DAM use, Cloud DAM is a virtual requirement. Unlike Photoshop or Microsoft Office, you can’t just install enterprise digital asset management software on a user’s computer, turn it on and start reaping the benefits. DAM software must be configured to reflect the way you work and the goals you have set.

Limited start-up budget – Because true Cloud DAM doesn’t require you to purchase an upfront software license, you can get started with Cloud DAM for a fraction of what it would cost you to purchase the perpetual license required by installed systems.

No software maintenance – One of things that makes Cloud software so popular is that it frees users from having to install upgrades or perform other system maintenance. Even if you do have IT staff available to perform upgrades, it can be difficult to schedule IT time, which delays upgrades.

“Anywhere” access – Though installed DAM systems can be accessed from the Web, in some cases firewalls or limitations of the DAM make this impractical. Cloud DAM is available from any Internet connection, enabling your users to get work done from the office, home, coffee houses, hotels or just about anywhere else.

Faster issue resolution – When software bugs and other issues affect a Cloud system, they can be addressed more quickly. This is because a Cloud DAM system needs to work on only within a single environment—the DAM vendor’s data center. This makes it easier for the vendor to isolate and fix problems. Bugs reported for installed software can take more time to squash because they not be easy to replicate due to the wide variety of computers and networking environments. Even when a bug is determined to be in the core software application, it must be fixed and tested across many different system configurations before a patch can be released. The result is that it can take months for the vendor to issue a fix, and then you have to schedule the update with your IT team.

When DAM Installed On-premise is Best

Total control for IT pros – Organizations that have “rock star” IT personnel can really leverage that valuable resource by doing more with their locally installed DAM software. Whether the plan is to integrate with the DAM with other on-premise business systems, or just configure it to be exactly the DAM you need, installed software can offer more choice with regard to how your DAM performs and behaves.

Internet-free performance and reliability – As fast as Internet connections have become, they still don’t match the speed of a properly tuned local area network (LAN). If your work-in-progress workflows rely on large files, you’ll probably find the extra speed offered by your LAN to be a welcome bonus. LAN-based DAM can be especially valuable if your Internet connectivity is unreliable, or if you can’t afford any downtime that might be caused by temporarily losing your Internet connection.

Stable production environments – The Cloud DAM advantage of more frequent updates can actually be a disadvantage to organizations that would rather standardize on a given release and upgrade only when it suits them to do so. In some cases, software updates can require retraining users. This can cause unacceptable production delays if a Cloud DAM upgrade comes right in the middle of your deadline. Worse, Cloud DAM maintenance could be scheduled right when you need your DAM most.

Absolute data security – As secure as public Cloud data centers can be, they are not under your control. This means that there is always the possibility of a security breach. If your assets and metadata can simply not be compromised under any circumstance, on-premise DAM might be your best option.

Data storage regulations – In some cases, laws or corporate regulations can restrict where data is stored. If you are required to keep data on-site, or if you are not permitted to store business data outside your country and your DAM vendor offers no regional data center, Cloud DAM might not even be a choice for you.

Tax ramifications – Service-based (Cloud/SaaS) software cannot be considered a capital expenditure. This might have significant impact on your long-term total cost of ownership (TCO). Read more about this in “Understanding the Financial Implications of a SaaS DAM” by Jeff Lawrence.

When Hybrid DAM is Best

Organizations sometimes need the benefits of both DAM deployment models. For example, they might have regulatory restrictions that prevent them from using Cloud DAM for some asset content, but not others. For example, financial documents might have to be stored on-site while marketing materials can be stored anywhere. Or, an organization might want the global distribution benefits of the Cloud even though their workflows require the LAN-speed of on-premise digital asset management.

A great solution can be hybrid digital asset management. An on-premise system is installed and used for works-in-production or the archive of sensitive materials, and a partner Cloud DAM system works for distribution and sharing. To the user, there is only one DAM, even though two different DAM servers might be required to make the system efficient and in compliance with regulations.

Due to the custom nature of hybrid DAM requirements, it’s a good idea to speak to your DAM services team about hybrid DAM if you think it’s something that might benefit your organization.

Learn More about Cloud vs. On-premise

DAM Shootout: Cloud (SaaS) vs. Onsite — This recorded webinar features two Picturepark customers speaking about their DAM deployment choices. Heath Norton from Northern Arizona University chose to run Picturepark on-premise (onsite), while Lincoln Howell from cable manufacturer Belden runs Picturepark in the Cloud. No signup forms are required to view. Watch the Cloud vs. on-premise DAM webinar now »