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Cloud DAM vs On-Premise DAM

On-Premise DAM or Cloud DAM. What’s the best?

Cloud DAM vs On-Premise DAM

At Daminion we don’t believe that ‘the cloud’ is meant for every technology platform or for every creative team. Most of the digital asset management vendors in today’s market have moved to or solely exist on ‘the cloud’.

One of their arguments is that it simply is the way of the future. While that may have a thread of truth to it, that is not the whole truth for every creative team. Even in today’s modern, digital world some solutions and ways of doing business still need to be managed locally by your team.

This is one of the many ways that makes Daminion standout in the sea of DAM vendors. 

Organizing, managing and distributing your company’s thousands of digital assets is important and requires a level of efficiency to the process and technology structure.

If your creative team is part of a company that has heavy security requirements or works with large files you are most likely one that is best served with a local server system.

In other words, an on-site or on-premise DAM system is probably the route you will need to go. Let’s talk about why and the benefits of having an on-prem solution, even in today’s world of ‘the cloud’.

Table of Contents

  • Why ‘The Cloud’ aka SaaS exists today
  • Biggest risk to SaaS solutions
  • Benefits of On-Premise DAM solution: Reliability and Performance
  • DAM is responsible for security
  • Asset Ownership
  • Greater DAM Customization
  • Payments
  • Summary

Why ‘The Cloud’ aka SaaS exists today

Let’s start by addressing the elephant in the room. The SaaS approach for platforms is not all bad. The setup does have some redeeming qualities that fit some companies and their creative teams.

One of the biggest benefits to companies and creative, marketing or sales teams to use vendors whose platform lives within the cloud framework is the ability to offload the responsibility of IT to implement, maintain, support and enhance the platform.

This works for companies who have limited IT resources. 

For many companies though, there are still many important benefits to keeping your IT in-house. According to a blog post written by computertech.com the benefits can include maintaining direct control over the staff and procedures, the internal teams intimate knowledge of your companies IT workings, long-term staff, and most importantly direct control over you data and assets. 

The unofficial reason these platform vendors operate in the cloud is because offering professional IT services is because it becomes a form of passive income for them.

They get to charge you monthly for services that quite often you may not fully use. And if you do, it may be for a couple of hours a month, a fraction of what you’re entitled to through your partnership agreement. 

Cloud DAM partnership agreement

The biggest risk to SaaS solutions

Something that vendors who host their platforms on SaaS storage solutions such as Amazon’s AWS or Microsoft’s Azure do not talk about is the complete dependency on these third-party storage companies to stay up and running at all times.

Most people will be quick to argue that those storage and hosting companies’ platforms ‘never go down’. 

Yet 2021 taught us that that isn’t actually true and these systems are more vulnerable than people realize. On Dec 7, 2021 Amazon had its third power outage in a month’s time.

This third episode lasted seven hours and according to a Washington Post article, the outage took down “a wide range of online giants, from the work chat rooms of Slack to the gaming store of Epic Games.”

Cloud systems such as AWS allow companies to rent servers and computing power over the Web, and they’ve revolutionized the Internet with promises of a reliable online backbone, available at any minute.

The article goes on to say the following,

“Cloud systems such as AWS allow companies to rent servers and computing power over the Web, and they’ve revolutionized the Internet with promises of a reliable online backbone, available at any minute.

But the outages have underscored how this consolidation of the Internet’s once-distributed capabilities also means that a single failure can lead to wide-ranging, ripple effects, weakening the hidden backbone undergirding much of the Web.

“A single glitch in a high-profile provider will have huge implications on countless organizations of all sizes, in often very unexpected ways,” said Ed Skoudis, president of the SANS Technology Institute. Service interruptions are vast and impact thousands of companies and millions of users. We are putting more eggs into fewer and fewer baskets. More eggs get broken that way.”

Ed Skoudis, president of the SANS Technology Institute
On-Premise DAM solution: Reliability and Performance

Benefits of On-Premise DAM solution: Reliability and Performance

Given your organization needs high levels of reliability in the software solution that houses and distributes your digital assets, uptime reliability is a critical factor. Your users are not beholden to the stability of hosting giants in order to get to the content they need to do their work.

Having your digital asset management solution running locally to your main system structure provides greater system reliability and easy access. 

The positive ripple effect is that users are able to access and use larger files faster, without dependence on internet connection, allowing them to get content out into the world quicker.

Performance degradation is dramatically cut down compared to operating out the cloud. Part of winning in today’s world is speed to market. Can you get your content in front of your customers before the competition steals their attention? 

Misconfigurations, access management, regulatory compliance, data storage, data retention, privacy and data breaches, and disaster recovery

DAM is responsible for security

When you have moved your DAM locally, your assets are now sitting behind your corporate firewall. Your assets are not sitting out on someone else’s storage servers, which also happen to be used by other companies, probably even your competitors.

According to a blog post by a SaaS consolidation service, Vendor, there are seven main security issues that need to be addressed by users of Saas platforms.

These issues include, “Misconfigurations, access management, regulatory compliance, data storage, data retention, privacy and data breaches, and disaster recovery.”

Now, to be fair, these issues don’t all simply go away when you move to an on-prem approach for your DAM.

But, the reality is that each of those issues are trying to be solved and addressed by the providers, with your company most likely not providing input and decisions on the how, what or when to fix them. In contrast, with your DAM being hosted on-premise, your own IT team gets to decide the how, what and when to address similar issues. 

Cloud DAM vs On-Premise DAM

Asset Ownership

Let’s now talk about an aspect of the DAM space that actually is one of the biggest risks, asset ownership. To be clear we are not talking about copyright ownership of the content, but who owns the housing of your digital assets.

The reason this topic is a huge risk is that when you decide to put all your belongings that have been kept in someone else’s house you now become beholden to them, their rules and even their limitations.

‘Can’t I just move them from one DAM vendor to another if I don’t like how things are going’ you may ask?

You sure can, but stop and think about that for a minute. Without this trying to seem dramatic, let’s be honest with ourselves. 

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System move? Storage as a Service (SaaS)?

The biggest risk you will face if you want to ‘move’ from one vendor to another, is the retention, association and embedding of all the metadata you associated with your entire library; not to mention the possibility of migrating the actual assets from one storage system to another storage system.

The first thing that you will have to do after moving to another vendor is for their system to now index your entire library. Depending on the size of your library, this can take days or weeks to complete the indexing and preview generation processes. 

One other big problem you need to also consider is that any linking you did to the assets in the previous version are now all broken. You can’t ‘port over’ any of the links to either share internally, embed into designs, or publish to external sites.

The first time you open existing Adobe InDesign files they will show the links to all the components as broken. Your designers could now run into problems or major time delays trying to relink components. 

Moving from one DAM Vendor to another DAM vendor

Why is it difficult?

Now comes the complicated part. The taking of all the metadata, keywords, taxonomy, and tags from the previous system over to the new system. The reality is that when you add metadata, keywords and tags to an asset, they don’t actually get embedded into the file itself unless you do so as part of the export process.

Instead, the DAM uses a relational database to link all the data to the asset using a Unique ID or UID. 

Your new vendor will have to work with you and your previous vendor to find a way to map and align the data. And honestly, there is always a level of data loss or misalignment requiring months of auditing and redoing.

Additionally, if you’ve created any sort of collections or groups of assets your DAM Manager will have to spend time recreating all those collections in the new system. 

The point being, yes it can be done. But, it will take a lot longer than you think and will be really expensive to make the move. Moving from one Vendor to another is not something that should be happening with any regularity.

All of this is our long-winded way to prove the point that the advantage of having your DAM setup locally allows you to avoid all this time and expense. 

Now, there is one upside to using an On-Premise DAM, is if your assets are stored on NAS/File servers. Daminion specifically can integrate with your local file systems, Including costly Dell EMC ISILON stations.

Those assets can be more quickly indexed using file references. This is a benefit because you can minimize asset duplication, saving cleanup time and reducing upfront storage costs. 

DAM Customization: Cloud DAM vs On-Premise DAM solution

Greater DAM Customization

The last benefit we want to highlight when it comes to having your DAM stored locally is that the platform itself becomes more customizable.

When you are using a cloud-hosted platform the features and functionality are typically rolled out to everyone, at the same time.

You can most likely configure some of the data input fields and your taxonomy, but that is usually where it stops.

If you need to customize the functionality in order to meet your workflow needs then your best option is to submit feature requests to the vendor.

Depending on the vendor, you may be waiting months or even years for those desired features to show up. Even then, they might not function completely as you wanted. 

In contrast, you can typically have some greater functionality to customize your on-prem platform to fit your workflow needs. A lot of the time this can be done with setting up a series of If This Then That (ITTT) triggers and actions. 

The one caution you need to take when customizing your platform is the ongoing maintenance, especially when you upgrade to a newer version of the platform. If you deploy an updated version, it may very well break your current customizations and you’d need to recreate them.

This can obviously be expensive and time-consuming. This is one reason why companies that deploy locally and customize will typically only deploy dot releases or necessary patch fixes. Otherwise, full version updates can be skipped for a few years in order to maximize the existing customizations. 

On-Premise DAM systems have an option for one-time payment


One of the last benefits to highlight with on-premise solutions over Cloud is how payments are handled. On-Premise DAM systems have an option for a one-time payment, while cloud systems will constantly charge you, every month.

This payment method can be critical for non-profit and research organizations that rely on grants to finance their technology needs.

Pros and cons of DAM systems

It is not so cut and dry to decide if your organization needs their DAM to be hosted in the cloud, through the platform vendor or being run in-house.

Hopefully, though, this article will help address some of the most common talking points on this topic. To help we are including a side-by-side comparison for a quick visual reference of on-prem vs cloud. 

Do you have any more DAM questions about having your digital asset management system set up locally to your organization?

For further DAM related questions or inquiries specific to Daminion please feel free to contact us at www.daminion.net 

Features & Functionality of Clud DAM and On-Premise DAM solutions

Spencer J Harris