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Questions To Consider When Externally Hosting DAM Solutions

by Ralph Windsor on June 12, 2014

Dan Huby, of Montala, one of the original developers of the ResourceSpace open source digital asset management system, has contributed a feature article for DAM News: External DAM Hosting – The Questions You Should Be Asking.  The article discusses the potential risks with outsourced hosting in the form of a series of questions:

  • Who has physical access to my servers?
  • How well connected is my system?
  • How much redundancy is built in to the system?
  • What happens if the server fails completely, or there’s an incident at the data centre?
  • What automated monitoring processes are in place?
  • How secure is my server? What access limits are in place?
  • Can I be sent a copy of my data?
  • How does it compare to hosting internally?
  • Can’t I just buy a cheap hosting package and host the DAM externally myself?

Over the past few years a trend has emerged towards web based and more user friendly DAM systems enabling wider access to the system – across the entire organisation and perhaps beyond, sharing assets directly with external partners, customers and suppliers around the world.  A step further in this direction – and something that is increasingly being offered – is hosting of your DAM system entirely externally or “in the cloud”. The typical model here is known as Software As A Service (SaaS). You pay a fee – typically annually – which encompasses software licensing (if applicable), support and hosting. This can be very attractive, as all the technical complexity is handled entirely by a third party. You simply need to log in and use the system. There’s usually little need to involve your (typically over-stretched!) internal IT team at all. However, handing your business critical assets over to a third party is not without risks, and those risks may not become apparent until the worst happens and your provider sustains a serious outage.” [Read More]

There are a lot of good points in this piece and it is a topical subject we have discussed a number of times before on DAM News.  The risks of out-sourcing hosting are still not as widely understood as they should be and most of the comment is based on binary positions that either fully support or reject it, with over-optimistic assertions from the former camp and excessive doom-mongering from the latter (usually relating to some vested interest that either group is associated with).

The reality is more nuanced and the facts are that you can save a substantial amount of IT capital expenditure by using externally hosting, but as with any investment where control over services are passed to a third party, you need a properly considered plan to manage your risks and get your digital assets out of danger should some catastrophe occur.  If you are considering external hosting of your DAM system, Dan’s article and our other DAM SaaS Survival Guide are both worth reviewing before you sign up to a DAM hosting service agreement.

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