One of our featured DAM Vendors, WoodWing, have upgraded their Elvis DAM solution to version 5.0. The key enhancements relate to scalability and the architecture of their solution to support a much larger volume of assets (up to one billion according to their press). This is the quote from Bastiaan Born, Elvis Product Manager:
“Watching the evolution in the digital asset management arena, we realized that we need to scale horizontally – distributing the main server over multiple machines. This new cluster setup distributes the server load over multiple servers so you can add more server nodes, be it processing nodes, search index nodes or storage engines.” [Read More]
In addition, they have upgraded their web client. Elvis was a desktop based solution (although one that uses Adobe AIR that leverage web technologies like HTML5 and Flash). The web client was provided some time ago to answer the need for one from their users and to ensure they remained competitive with pure web based solutions which are now the more dominant application delivery method. To what extent their web client is fully interchangeable with the desktop app is a point you would need to check and depends on your use-case, although based on their press, they do know that this is a ‘must have’ feature for many. Some heavy DAM users still prefer desktop apps as they are usually more responsive, but the benefits are becoming increasingly marginal, especially when factoring in the extra hassle with deploying and upgrading them. It’s interesting that WoodWing have not currently decided to fully separate their web based system from the desktop version via a completely different application brand, as Canto have with Flight.
The main news is the ‘Elastic Search’ scalable architecture. Another quote from the press by Bastiaan Born is this one:
“While Elvis always relied on powerful search engine technology instead of a database approach and already serves customers with up to 20 million assets, trends show that we need to be ready for the next step,” said Bastiaan Born, Product Manager DAM Software at WoodWing Software. According to Born, another performance aspect is the increasing number of users of DAM systems, including internal teams, as well as external freelancers and partners such as resellers.” [Read More]
The 20 million mark sounds reasonable to me in the publishing sector. For more general corporate users that depend on non-dedicated staff uploading assets as they acquire or create them, it still seems to be quite a lot lower than that (many implementations struggle to get to seven figures, or even six for some). I can acknowledge, however, that publishers have much higher volumes of digital assets than many others and if you factor in any batch rendered material like e-mail or print templates, automated renditions etc then it isn’t difficult to reach those numbers. As digital marketing exceeds the popularity of traditional channels like print, TV etc then you can foresee very large content repositories becoming more prevalent.
In terms of wider DAM trends, scalability looks like one of the other key directions in addition to interoperability. A number of vendors are starting to introduce Big Data related technologies like N0SQL into their application stacks in order to augment and workaround some of the limitations of classic relational database schemas. The business implications for DAM are that systems which are better connected and able to house very large volumes of digital assets stand to be more likely to be selected for enterprise implementations. Those two trends point towards consolidation and some of the smaller players being side-lined (as platform owners, at least) since they may begin to lack the architecture and connectivity to remain competitive. While there will still be a role for smaller scale DAM vendors, they will find themselves competing more directly with DropBox, Google, Box etc and being asked to justify their higher prices as a result.
Over time, software markets tend to stratify into opposite high and low-end poles, with the middle ground getting gradually cleared as the vendors who occupied that space when the market was still developing start to lack the means to compete with bigger players and are not low cost enough to sustain an onslaught from the better capitalised commodity offerings. DAM does not currently look like being much different in respect of the overall market trajectory and maturity phases it still has to go through. There will be a number of vendors who have over-inflated opinions of their abilities who will not grasp the need to adapt in time (and will get wiped out as a result) some of the others might get acquired (as a few already have) and a far smaller number will see the writing on the wall and acknowledge the need to choose their DAM niches more selectively, including potentially collaborating with some former commercial adversaries. For DAM market observers, it will be interesting to see who ends up in which group and by what manner or means they get there.