It's a Digital World, After All: Options in Digital Asset Management

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Range of Approaches
As mentioned earlier, there are many vendors with product, service, and mixed product-service offerings for Digital Asset Management. Larger, storage-focused companies, such as IBM, Sony, and EMC, offer customizable solutions and services that center on their hardware and networking solutions. Between them, these larger companies have significant installations at blue-chip customers, such as CNN, Entertainment Tonight, and Starz Encore Group. Sony and IBM, for example, installed an asset management system at CNN, allowing CNN to begin the process of digitizing over 120,000 hours of its video archive.

After the large storage-focused companies, there are a number of DAM-only companies that offer either "end-to-end" or more niche solutions. Among the "end-to-end" offerings, Artesia stands out as the most full-featured product, with support for both rich media and also a wide range of text formats, databases, Quark files, and finished goods formats, such as PDF. TEAMS is also a highly extensible product, suitable for enterprise deployment, with flexible support for many things that IT organizations are looking for like Java, XML, and contemporary programming interfaces based on approaches like CORBA.

Artesia has some significant entertainment and publishing companies among its customer base, including Time Warner, Random House, and HBO, but has also won business from product-focused companies, such as General Motors and Herman Miller.

Another company with a broad offering is eMotion, with its MediaPartner product. MediaPartner boasts enhanced features for "ingesting" and archiving assets, with a natural language search engine and project management tools to support a flexible, open workflow. North Plains Systems, with its TeleScope product, tracks, manages, and retrieves a wide variety of files. TeleScope is integrated with several commercial databases, including Oracle and Microsoft SQL server, and also offers "I-Piece" plug-ins for specialized requirements, such as digital rights management and watermarking.

More typically, though, products focus on a particular medium, and do it exceedingly well. Convera's Screening Room, for example, manages video content, and continues to add more and more features to an already impressive list. (Convera is the company resulting from the merger of Excalibur and the Interactive Media Services group at Intel.) Like many DAM vendors, Convera offers both a product and a hosted service. Toronto-based Bulldog is another attractive offering for managing video content, and integrates well with Virage's VideoLogger, which is a best-in-breed tool for cataloging video content.

Keep in mind that many of these technology companies offer hosted services, and some companies, like ArtMachine, focus almost exclusively on the hosting end of the business. Also, many of the vendors work together to provide a "total solution," with Artesia teaming with specialized companies, such as Virage, and content management vendors, such as Vignette and Interwoven, and Bulldog integrates both Virage's VideoLogger and Convera's RetrievalWare search engine.

If you have done as a company like Sekani suggests and articulated both your business goals and your blueprint for DAM technology, you should be able to understand which offerings will be helpful to you and which will not. And no matter what you do on the technology side, the logical first step is to first inventory and understand what assets you have, and what business use you may have for them.

Sidebar: What DAM Does

When all is said and done, DAM products offer some or all of the following features, for one or more of the media types you require.

  • Asset Capture and Digitization Includes things like converting assets, encoding them, and logging them into the system. These can also include the tools involved in the original creation and editing of the assets.
  • Asset Management Includes core features, such as storage, indexing, and retrieval, but can also include more sophisticated tools for security and Digital Rights Management (DRM). Storage should be flexible, allowing for the repurposing of assets over time.
  • Asset Distribution Includes appropriate people inside and outside the firewall, across the Internet, and people using all manner of client devices (PCs, wireless devices, etc.), as well as Content Distribution Networks like those from Akamai.

Companies Mentioned in This Article

Sony (PDF file)
North Plains Systems
GISTICS (Research)

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