Forrester Go Head To Head With Real Story Group In DAM Evaluations Report


Analyst, Forrester, have published a report on their assessment of the DAM market:

In Forrester’s 15-criteria evaluation of the DAM market, we identified 12 significant vendors in the space — ADAM Software; Adobe; Autonomy, an HP company; Canto; celum; EMC; Extensis, a Celartem company; MediaBeacon; North Plains; OpenText; Widen Enterprises; and Xinet — and then researched, analyzed, and scored them. This report details our findings on how DAM vendors measure up and plots where they stand in relation to each other in order to help AD&D professionals select the right solution for their rich media management needs.” [Read More]

They evaluate a number of ‘significant’ DAM vendors, using a baseline criteria of $5m annual revenues to filter the number of participants down.  I’m not sure that criteria necessarily leads to the best selection of vendors as some of the smaller players in this market often outstrip their larger peers for both product stability and innovation (in my experience) but procurement managers tend to favour larger turnovers, even if the finical stability of the vendor in question might be illusory and constructed using accounting smoke and mirrors.

The Forrester report costs $2495 to purchase.  Competitors, Real Story Group, want a similar amount for their one at $2,450 but they cover 29 vendors, including some open source ones, although the inclusion criteria appears more arbitrary and is non-transparent (although perhaps I just missed it and they don’t use the previously described revenue model to sub-divide the market).  I am not aware of what the licence restrictions are for the Forrester report (many analyst reports stipulate that organisations must purchase additional licences depending on the number of readers – as software vendors often do).  The Real Story report allows you to share it with 5 colleagues before you need to buy another.  Real Story also offer annual subscriptions with updates and to allow buyers to purchase multiple reports.

What neither of them reveal, as far as I could find, is whether participation requires payment to change hands between the analyst and the vendor.  Real Story Group are fairly clear about what they will not do but I couldn’t find any actual reference that says vendors are not charged to ‘pay to play’ – as some have called it.  Since they highlight their robust stance towards vendors, one would expect they compete with them for their client’s budgets rather than viewing the subjects of their evaluations as a potential sales opportunity too, but that would be a point I would want to know before I was willing to judge whether the report was worth the asking price or not.  “Double-dipping” by analysts certainly does take place in the tech sector and while it might be legal, one would need to question how impartial an analyst evaluation can really be and, therefore, the ultimate value of it.

I am unsure to what extent these reports are sold more as a form of insurance for corporate buyers (as in, ‘we asked the best people’ etc).  Although I have to acknowledge that if you’re spending hundreds of thousands (or millions in some cases) of your company’s funds on DAM technology then it is understandable that you would be  reticent to make a decision without some kind of second opinion as a back-up – and that might be a major factor driving the demand for this type of product.

In my mind, the real issue remains the monolithic procurement process for corporate DAM that transforms the exercise into a minefield of risk for the staff of the buyer.  Perhaps changes bought about by Cloud distribution models and open source might begin to change that.  Then end users might be better able to make more incremental procurement decisions based on proven business need and tangible usage experiences, which might reduce the need for this kind of assistance to begin with.  I am not about to hold my breath for that change to become reality, however.

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4 Comments

  • Nareesh, thanks very much for writing this article about the DAM research that’s currently available to potential DAM buyers. I would have been happy to address your questions if you had just asked directly. To address your comments:

    We started our firm specifically because we saw the analyst world’s “pay to play” model as a direct conflict of interest. Yes, most analyst reports do require vendors to pay or to be a customer in order to be included. No vendor pays to be in our report, though some certainly try to get in that way and we are constantly having to explain that is not our model. We choose to include vendors based on:

    1) Whether or not our clients are asking us about them, first and foremost
    2) *After* a product or an open source project has some kind of traction or a level of adoption beyond just a few organizations – we don’t cover brand new products or projects given our commitment to interviewing customers who have actually used it and our inherent skepticism of vendor claims
    3) Once a product or project reaches a certain level of maturity where it actually fits into the category of products we’re reviewing. We’re constantly contacted by vendors who have DAM “lites” that we don’t believe are sufficient caliber to support even small workgroups or mid-size enterprises, and we often watch them for some time before making any additions

    Our customers range from large Fortune 100 companies to small non-profits and universities – many of whom are looking to buy an inexpensive, sub $50k product, or looking at open source, which is why we also focus on small to medium-sized vendors or projects in addition to the large ones. Unlike Forrester, we don’t restrict based on a company’s revenues.

    Forrester’s report is only about 30 pages; our report is 400+ pages and a comprehensive product evaluation report that is full of very specific product detail based on what we learn running proofs of concepts, doing product testing, and conducting customer interviews. Subscriptions include 2 – 4 hours of time with an analyst. You can buy a license that allows unlimited access for your company, not just for 5 users, but that is more expensive (though still, less than about a week of a consultant’s time).

    We don’t tend to compete with vendors on client budgets because typically budgets spent on research vs. software are from different departments / groups. We’re usually helping our customers justify even getting a budget for DAM in the first place (our research contains 20+ pages on that).

    Thanks again for writing this article, and please feel free to reach out to me (or I’ll put you in touch with some of our research subscribers) if you have any further questions about Real Story Group.

  • Theresa, this follows up our discussion on Linked In and I will address comments relating to this here rather than on the end of that thread.

    On each of your points:

    “We choose to include vendors based on:
    1) Whether or not our clients are asking us about them, first and foremost ”

    So how is anyone external to RSG able to assess that? Do you have any explanation as to why prospective end users are asking about them and how do you know what is actually influencing the market? In other words, do you know why are clients asking for a given product?

    “2) *After* a product or an open source project has some kind of traction or a level of adoption beyond just a few organizations – we don’t cover brand new products or projects given our commitment to interviewing customers who have actually used it and our inherent skepticism of vendor claims ”

    How do you define ‘traction’? It is relatively easy for a vendor with a big marketing budget to issue numerous press releases and advertising to generate the illusion of traction and get prospective end users to take an interest in them (see previous point).

    If lots of people ask you about product x, are you not obliged to include it? Your first criteria suggests you are. Some of the vendor choices indicate that the vendor’s marketing capability might divert the attention of your prospective clients and in turn require you to include them where it might not be justified. How do you protect against that?

    “3) Once a product or project reaches a certain level of maturity where it actually fits into the category of products we’re reviewing. We’re constantly contacted by vendors who have DAM “lites” that we don’t believe are sufficient caliber to support even small workgroups or mid-size enterprises, and we often watch them for some time before making any additions ”

    What would be the definition of ‘maturity’ then, who has verified that this is legitimate and how? Your criteria for evaluation selection has generated some confusing selections (in my opinion).

    Overall, I would need to agree that your method is more reliable than Forrester’s $5m turnover baseline and also at over 80 dollars per page per copy (based on the length you say it is), their report does come across as ‘nice work if you can get it’ (for them), however, they may take a different view, we will need to see if they wish to respond to that point also.

    I do still wonder on the actual selections for the RSG report though. There are some seemingly inexplicable omissions and inclusions. For example, why is ResourceSpace not included? It’s the oldest publicly available open source web DAM system, comparable with Razuna in terms of features, has more end users, a wider global installation base and uses PHP (which is easier to find developers for than CFML – an important point for an OS app). It is also a community oriented project with a de-centralised management, composed of multiple contributors and has a permissive BSD licence which is ideal for customisation compared with Razuna’s more restrictive split AGPL/Commercial approach.

    I’ve got nothing against Razuna and their product does have several features that are superior to ResourceSpace (cloud storage being the most obvious example I can think of) but I can’t see why one is included and the other is not? Most prospective end users of these two will want to know how one stacks up against the other.

    The Fedora Commons inclusion would be based on demand from your university/education clients where I gather it’s a popular platform. I can’t argue much there (from that perspective) but there are a large number of choices in this area now and I gather some want the vendor to have experience of their sector, but probably in a platform that is closer in approach to some of the commercially oriented solutions, for example, Notre DAM or Activae.

    Also, you do include ‘Oracle Universal Content Management’ (or ‘Oracle WebCenter Content Core Capabilities’ to use the new snappy title), Nuxeo DAM and SharePoint – all of which are ECM suites with DAM components. As far as I understand it, SharePoint requires you to use a third party toolset like Equilibrium MediaRich before you can get it to do DAM properly. In my own (admittedly incomplete) experience often it will often get integrated with a pure DAM like Picture Park (who aren’t featured in the RSG evaluation) or ADAM and Celum (who both are).

    I don’t often encounter the Oracle system being used for DAM much unless the IT department are big Oracle fans. Perhaps, I just haven’t met enough end users of it though? As an RDBMS back-end to hold metadata and application transactions etc then I can see that, but even as an ECM, it does seem a little obscure?

    Xinet are now part of North Plains – so that’s two positions for them, even though the product management team have been merged with NP’s. I guess the market is potentially different for both those products but you have to wonder how long the cost duplication of two platforms can be maintained by the merged entity?

    There isn’t anything about Asset Bank who have 400 installations (in the UK, Europe and US since 2005). Similar stories for Adgistics or Globusmedia (Brandworkz) who both have global offices, multinational clients and multi-faceted products based around an established core DAM platform. None of the products described are what I might call ‘DAM-Lite’, they include print collateral customisation, advanced metadata, video logging, APIs, workflow, collaboration and advanced transcoding features. They might have been ‘DAM Lite’ 5-6 years ago, but they have all moved on now and functionally are completely different to where they were. I could go on here with other examples of ‘mature’ DAM solutions.

    A few of the vendors/products still in the evaluation report look also like those whose time has been and gone and aren’t being actively maintained much. Final Cut Server being an obvious case in point – it’s an EoL product as far as I was aware?

    It’s hard to escape the conclusion that your decision making process for including vendors is prone to inertia distortions from legacy solutions and could also be negatively impacted by size of the provider. The number of ECMs in the evaluation suggests there are a lot of end users who are asking a question that might be construed as the wrong one (e.g. “Can we do DAM with SharePoint?”). Should ECMs be in the DAM report at the expense of more DAM-specific products?

    It seems a lot like the rapid expansion in vendors and also the functionality available at relatively low cost (or free in many OS cases) has left RSG with a bit of work to do to catch up and you are not fully sure where to start with that task. Perhaps you disagree that there needs to be any alteration in the vendors covered though?

    There is what appears (to me) to be an incongruous combination of legacy apps that were big in DAM 5+ years ago (pre 2007), ECM mega-platforms and then a mix of well known vendors and some smaller ones who clients ask you about. In my opinion, the choice of vendors partly represents an outdated orthodoxy that no longer seems to adequately represent the state of the modern DAM market.

    “We don’t tend to compete with vendors on client budgets because typically budgets spent on research vs. software are from different departments / groups. We’re usually helping our customers justify even getting a budget for DAM in the first place (our research contains 20+ pages on that). ”

    Those on-paper distinctions might exist for individual departmental managers, so in the sense of a department’s budget you might have a point, but you can bet FDs and CFOs (or their accounting assistants) are required to work out exactly how much they had to spend on their DAM initiative – all the way from procurement costs through to system support.

    In many smaller organisations, the cost of the evaluation isn’t neatly broken off to the purchasing department (if there even is one) the charge is directly offset against how much the business can spend on product. That might be a good thing if they are all set to buy a lot of functionality that they don’t need that can be bought for less money elsewhere, but it doesn’t matter how you slice and dice it, fundamentally it’s a zero sum game where someone is losing out. Therefore, I think you do compete with vendors for your client’s funds. As do I, as a DAM consultant, I would need to add.

    On your other point about justification for DAM. I note some of the more experienced vendors grasp that not every client should be implementing DAM and understand that it’s more sensible to filter those end users out sooner rather than later. For example, Picture Park’s Marketing Director, David Diamond and his “DAM Survival Guide” contains a chapter on selecting products, including whether DAM is really what you require. David has 20 years experience in the DAM trade and the book is vendor neutral and full of a lot of useful information for anyone planning DAM initiative. At $9 for around 200 pages it can’t be beaten for value for money – even by RSG!

    Also, this from Joshua Duhl of North Plains where he expands all the different cost elements to implementing DAM, including the hidden areas like training:

    http://www.northplains.com/blog/2011/05/the-13-areas-of-cost-for-a-dam-system/

    I think there is a definite element of overlap between what the various service providers offer in this market as some vendors realise there is a consultancy aspect required for DAM implementation also – and not just through their professional services divisions (if they have them).

    Fundamentally, whether vendor or consultant, it will be the client who has to justify the expense of any services purchased.

    I will acknowledge that the RSG method of handling the evaluation task is better than a lot of the other analysts out there. Also, the market for this service is a fairy murky, shark infested territory which RSG have done a reasonable job in shining a much needed light over. As with the DAM vendors you review, however, I think there may be some room for improvement.

    As I said in the original article, it is my contention that the whole modus operandi of enterprise software procurement is faulty and needs to radically change. It’s unacceptable for a small number of decision makers to be left with a task of making major capital expenditure decisions which might impact the productivity of the business for years afterwards – whether they have the expertise or not (with or without an evaluation report to help them).

    I am still unsure of how this will actually manifest itself, but the risk involved is going to be harder to justify as investment capital remains constrained in the wider business environment. I think there will be increased demand for a far more incremental approach to software implementation and purchasing.

    It seems perverse that while software development models have been transformed using ‘agile’ techniques, the procurement of the products that result is still stuck in an old quasi-civil engineering process that resembles tendering for some monolithic structure like a bridge, road or car park. This just does not measure up to the reality of how software is now implemented, used and changes over the course of its lifecycle (if it ever did).

  • “Whether or not our clients are asking us about them, first and foremost ” You wrote: so how is anyone external to RSG able to assess that? Do you have any explanation as to why prospective end users are asking about them and how do you know what is actually influencing the market? In other words, do you know why are clients asking for a given product?”

    The reasons are varied. Most commonly it’s because one of their competitors is using it, or they’ve already done their own research via their professional networks, or just by searching online. The most common thing I hear is, “I need a DAM, I know my competitor x is using y, and I’ve been following their info on Linkedin or Twitter, do you think it’s the right product for us?”

    2) You wrote: How do you define ‘traction’?

    Traction has nothing to do with marketing budgets by our measure. For us, traction = more than a few customers, and in more than one geography. Because RSG has research buyers in 60+ countries, we don’t tend to cover a vendor that only operates in, say, Switzerland. But if they spread into the larger reaches of DACH, then the UK or France, then we’d say it’s time to add them to our research because they’re gaining traction beyond their own little corner of the world. (Picturepark, for example, will be added to our research next month.) On rare occasions we will cover a product that dominates a large market where we also have a lot of customers, such as Scandinavia.

    3) You wrote: “If lots of people ask you about product x, are you not obliged to include it? Your first criteria suggests you are.”

    In most cases, yes, our research is in the service of our customers, not to satisfy our geeky curiosities. So if they ask us to cover certain vendors or evaluate them in a certain context, we do. This is why SharePoint and Oracle are in our DAM report. I am asked at least weekly if those products can be used as a DAM, by large enterprises who don’t want to buy something else but have a DAM need. Our research contains explanations as to how you can or can’t use these technologies as a DAM, but we do not cover them in anywhere close to the depth we do vendors like North Plains or MediaBeacon (at least not in our DAM research – we do in our ECM and WCXM research). Again, it is clear you are making judgments about the research without actually being familiar with it.

    Our choice of which vendors we cover has nothing to do with a vendor’s marketing capability. I would be curious for you to name what vendors we cover that aren’t important enough and that you have come to conclude we cover for this reason?

    When we began writing this research 5 years ago, I worked with several DAM industry founders (such as David Lipsey, one of the originals at Artesia) and longtime DAM experts (such as Joshua Duhl, formerly of ClearStory, IDC, North Plains and now Oracle) who helped me define the initial list and criteria for which vendors made sense to include.

    5) You wrote: For example, why is ResourceSpace not included?

    We have a list of systems we hope to add to the research over the next year to 18 months, and ResourceSpace is one of them, as are Brandworkz and Asset Bank. Please understand this is an ongoing multi-year project for me and my colleague Irina, it is 400+ pages that’s extremely time-consuming to keep up to date and add more vendors / projects to. These are not short snippet reviews like Forrester’s, they are 10-15 page evaluations that take weeks of an analyst’s time to write. However ResourceSpace is on our list and not in the research yet more out of my interest than any of our customers’ interest – which is why it’s not made the cut sooner. (Our customers are mostly marketing managers, CIOs, CMOs and brand stewards, as well as ad agencies – they don’t want to hire the development teams required to support OS projects the way many WCMS teams would jump to work with Drupal and Acquia, for example). I am asked a lot more about DuraSpace and EnterMedia than I am about RS, FWIW. Please note, we have thousands of research customers, so I’m not talking about a small sample here.

    Your comments re: Fedora are correct as to why we include them. But again, the real reason we haven’t focused as much on DAM open source as we have WCXM open source is that the lion’s share of our DAM customers actively want to avoid open source. They want simpler products with a reliable support team, and to work with companies who are on the hook for a services contract.

    I believe I’ve already addressed why Oracle, Nuxeo and SP are in the DAM report: because our customers who already have them want to know if they can be used as a DAM, not because we inherently consider them DAM products. We also do evaluate EQ MediaRich in the same chapter as SharePoint. In each individual vendor chapter, we discuss the pros and cons of various vendors SharePoint connectors, as well.
    We’ve kept Xinet as a separate chapter for now because it’s still very much a separate product and fulfills extremely different use cases than Telescope. Just this week I had two inquiries about that chapter and the long-term viability of the product. We’ll keep it separate as long as our customers keep asking specific questions about it, so it’s clear we’re still covering it. Similarly, Final Cut Server is still widely and avidly used.

    You wrote: “The number of ECMs in the evaluation suggests there are a lot of end users who are asking a question that might be construed as the wrong one (e.g. “Can we do DAM with SharePoint?”). Should ECMs be in the DAM report at the expense of more DAM-specific products?”

    I believe in running a business that responds to customers’ questions, which is why those ECM systems are in the research. But what you don’t realize is that they’re covered in much less depth than pure-play DAM tools, and not at the “expense” of other DAM-specific products. I find it again overly presumptuous on your part that you assume so much about our drivers and motivators that are completely wrong or that we “don’t know where to start” as far as what vendors we’re going to add over time. Again, this is a *subscription service* and we are always regularly adding vendors to the research, and we plan who to add based on what our customers request.

    I am very happy to receive feedback, and we get that from our customers frequently, and constantly update and improve our research based on that. Reading your arguments/”feedback” however is much like hearing someone arguing about a chef’s talents (or lack thereof) when they’ve never eaten at the restaurant, and only read the menu. You acknowledge that our “method of handling the evaluation task is better than a lot of the other analysts out there” but you’re out to tear it down based on the table of contents. Have you actually read any of our research? It seems not, and that you are simply out to have an argument.

  • Just before answering your points, I do note that you have revised your research to address a number of the issues I raised, but I acknowledge that these updates are probably not as a consequence of my comments.

    You wrote:

    “The reasons are varied. Most commonly it’s because one of their competitors is using it, or they’ve already done their own research via their professional networks, or just by searching online. The most common thing I hear is, “I need a DAM, I know my competitor x is using y, and I’ve been following their info on Linkedin or Twitter, do you think it’s the right product for us?”

    It does sound like if a prospective vendor wants to get attention from RSG, they need to invest in SEO, post phoney ‘infomercial’ answers to questions on LinkedIn and tweet a lot (relevant or not) to create interest from prospective users which you will then be obliged to take notice of, or alternatively already be embedded in the organisations you work with.

    Moving on:

    “This is why SharePoint and Oracle are in our DAM report. I am asked at least weekly if those products can be used as a DAM, by large enterprises who don’t want to buy something else but have a DAM need. Our research contains explanations as to how you can or can’t use these technologies as a DAM, but we do not cover them in anywhere close to the depth we do vendors like North Plains or MediaBeacon (at least not in our DAM research – we do in our ECM and WCXM research).”

    I do encounter this a lot also myself. It has been the same for 10-15 years and used to be ‘content management’ or ‘document management’ systems like Documentum or Lotus Notes. IT departments often wanted to provide some rudimentary ‘photo library’ to pacify requests for from those section of the business that dealt more with rich media – like marketing. What was deployed was generally useless and abandoned shortly after deployment (if it got that far). Now, SharePoint appears to be mentioned more frequently – but usually with a similar motivation (to save costs and reduce the burden of effort for the IT department). The results seem a little better but generally less effective than a dedicated DAM that can integrate with SharePoint rather than using SharePoint for DAM.

    Since your more generalist ECM/WCM practice preceded your interest in DAM I do have to wonder if the reason a lot of your clients ask you about using ECM is because that is where you already have existing business?

    Since around 2006-2007 two distinct trends appear to have emerged. The first is consolidation, but within a single business function. DAM is more frequently being requested by the whole marketing comms department now, rather than just the design studio, photo library or other specialist division. So DAM products have become less about their former production niche and more wide-ranging in scope. Based on your recent posts, this seems to be something you acknowledge also now.

    A counter-trend (diversification over consolidation) is that marketing managers don’t want to be lumped in with a generalist ECM suites and prefer more focussed (‘pure’) DAM solutions and products that are more directly attuned to their needs – SharePoint being a case in point. Perhaps that is why you have acknowledged a need to cover those vendors more closely now?

    On your next issue:

    ” Again, it is clear you are making judgments about the research without actually being familiar with it. Our choice of which vendors we cover has nothing to do with a vendor’s marketing capability. I would be curious for you to name what vendors we cover that aren’t important enough and that you have come to conclude we cover for this reason? ”

    The same judgements which someone else might make prior to a purchase decision based on similar information available to them also.

    On the vendor choices, a number look like they’re a bit long in the tooth. The Final Cut Pro Server (which is now end of life – i.e. isn’t supported any longer) might be one. It may well currently have an active user base, but HyperCard was another legacy Apple product with lots of unpaid evangelists which end users maintained some time after the powers that be in Cupertino had quietly dropped it. I personally know a number of freelance developers that made a decent living maintaining HyperCard stacks as later as 2003. Not many of them would have considered deploying it for new requirements much after around 1995 though. So the same scenario now appears to be playing out with Final Cut, if you use it now, you’re implementing a product which is already a legacy app.

    You said this:

    “When we began writing this research 5 years ago, I worked with several DAM industry founders (such as David Lipsey, one of the originals at Artesia) and longtime DAM experts (such as Joshua Duhl, formerly of ClearStory, IDC, North Plains and now Oracle) who helped me define the initial list and criteria for which vendors made sense to include.”

    Yes, so that proves my point, it is (or perhaps was – see my comment at the top of the response) based on an orthodoxy that is out of date. Both those people have changed jobs a few times in the last five years, as you say.

    As I believe David Lipsey has described elsewhere, the range of directions being taken by DAM vendors is expanding to encompass a range of different destination solutions. I obviously cannot speak for him, but the list he provided you in 2007 may not be the same today and if I was asked to provide one myself now, I might need to sub-divide it to reflect the fragmentation process taking place across the sector. The increasing number of DAM derivative acronyms terms now in use, like BAM, MAM and (some might argue) MRM also supports this theory.

    On point (5), you said:

    “We have a list of systems we hope to add to the research over the next year to 18 months, and ResourceSpace is one of them, as are Brandworkz and Asset Bank. Please understand this is an ongoing multi-year project for me and my colleague Irina, it is 400+ pages that’s extremely time-consuming to keep up to date and add more vendors / projects to. These are not short snippet reviews like Forrester’s, they are 10-15 page evaluations that take weeks of an analyst’s time to write. ”

    With respect here, Theresa, this is like vendors telling you that x,y or z feature is coming ‘in the next version’ – you wouldn’t accept that as a legitimate reason and neither will I. No doubt vendors would also complain that it was time consuming for them to keep extending their systems also and that might well be the case, but it doesn’t mean you should buy their product until it offers what you require does it?

    In regard to ResourceSpace:

    “…ResourceSpace is on our list and not in the research yet more out of my interest than any of our customers’ interest – which is why it’s not made the cut sooner. (Our customers are mostly marketing managers, CIOs, CMOs and brand stewards, as well as ad agencies – they don’t want to hire the development teams required to support OS projects the way many WCMS teams would jump to work with Drupal and Acquia, for example). I am asked a lot more about DuraSpace and EnterMedia than I am about RS, FWIW. Please note, we have thousands of research customers, so I’m not talking about a small sample here. ”

    Nick and I do get asked about ResourceSpace a lot more than other OS DAM platforms, but I will acknowledge it’s a UK product which is where we are based so perhaps that affects interest in that product. Most of the enquiries about ResourceSpace come from ‘digital marketing managers’ who presumably have asked their website designers and developers to recommend something (as it is a LAMP based solution and a lot of OS CMS are based on that stack too).

    The fact that RS do little marketing probably does not help their cause for gaining market attention. The OS vendors who do lots of marketing seem to be Razuna and Nuxeo, both of whom you do cover.

    On your other points, I’m not actually sure Open Source DAM solutions require a development team any to support them any more than proprietary products do. You might well need someone to deploy the solution or add custom enhancements – but that is the same for most web applications and most vendors will provide that service (whether they are OS or not). Alternatively, if you want Cloud/SaaS options they nearly all seem to offer that too. So, in what sense do they require a development team to be put to use?

    Setting aside D-Space (who we have agreed are targeted at a niche market) can you name any that won’t provide these options? I guess there is Activae (who are not really a vendor, being funded by a Spanish government agency). The others like Entermedia, FocusOPEN, NotreDAM, Phraseanet, Razuna and TACTIC all offer paid support programmes and hosting options too. I suspect each of the vendors named might be disappointed to hear that an analyst was discounting their software based on an incorrect, default assumption.

    Your penultimate point was:

    “Your comments re: Fedora are correct as to why we include them. But again, the real reason we haven’t focused as much on DAM open source as we have WCXM open source is that the lion’s share of our DAM customers actively want to avoid open source. They want simpler products with a reliable support team, and to work with companies who are on the hook for a services contract.”

    I’ll accept you’re referring to your customers here, but when my clients have perceptions or opinions that are clearly inaccurate, I feel obliged to point that out to them as it can create problems for our engagement as we progress the relationship if we don’t tackle those issues quite early on.

    As to whether they are ‘on the hook’ for a support contract, that does depend on whether you paid them for a Service Level Agreement (SLA) or not though doesn’t it? If you buy a proprietary product without support then (if they allow it) the vendor is not obligated to assist you. A number might retain some sort of ‘cabinet contract’ support option for customers without SLAs, but that will usually have a defined period when it ends and the response time will be very slow. There is a commercial reality with support in that if you need to take up someone’s time for a specific issue then it is very likely you will have to pay them for that. That appears unavoidable whether you go OS or do not. It seems more that OS is about access to the source code (if you want it) than any other characteristic.

    There is an article by your former colleague, Adriaan Bloem, “Open source: it’s just a license”, http://www.realstorygroup.com/Blog/1642-Open-source:-its-just-a-license – which reaches this conclusion:

    “There’s only one thing you can generalize: open source is a specific kind of license. And discussions about which license is better are rather academic. What you’d want to decide on is what your software should do, if and how you want to customize it, and how easy it is to get support when you need it.”

    The real question isn’t the licence, it’s whether the software is any good or not (or meets your needs if you want to be more diplomatic about it). That’s something that needs to be decided on a case by case basis.

    My previous point relates to one of the themes I can see emerging. The RSG DAM evaluations react to a fast moving DAM market rather than predicting it. In 2008, you were referring to DAM as ‘always the bridesmaid, never the bride’.

    http://www.realstorygroup.com/Blog/1237-DAM:-Always-the-bridesmaid-never-the-bride

    Despite the financial crisis, in my experience (and many other vendors or consultants I talk to) this was a boom year – arguably it actually started further back in 2005-2006 and was gathering pace during the preceding decade. Yet by 2009, you are declaring that the DAM market had now taken off – in the space of one year?

    Might another explanation be that you had become aware of a trend that had already been ongoing well before you became aware of it?

    II do acknowledge you are now rapidly expanding your coverage, but I think you still have work to do here, as do most vendors to catch up what their users want.

    There is a complacency in the DAM industry now that results from increased demand (the ‘explosion’ referred to in your blog post). Many failed to predict this – even though it is obvious that if you increase the volume of devices that can generate digital media assets then people will want tools to manage the output of them before long. Increased demand will, of course, be accompanied by an increase in the number of vendors and products – which is what is happening. A ‘DAM crash’ in the near future as a result of over-supply seems on the cards too.

    On your final paragraph:

    “I am very happy to receive feedback, and we get that from our customers frequently, and constantly update and improve our research based on that. Reading your arguments/”feedback” however is much like hearing someone arguing about a chef’s talents (or lack thereof) when they’ve never eaten at the restaurant, and only read the menu. You acknowledge that our “method of handling the evaluation task is better than a lot of the other analysts out there” but you’re out to tear it down based on the table of contents. Have you actually read any of our research? It seems not, and that you are simply out to have an argument.”

    I argued about the choice of vendors, not the quality of the research, which I have not commented on.

    When I visit restaurants I haven’t eaten in before, I do tend to stand outside and read the menu first. If the dishes don’t sound like ones that I might be interested in – then I go elsewhere. You could argue that I should read the reviews first before venturing out, however, bringing this analogy back towards the question under discussion, there isn’t a ‘Michelin Guide To DAM Analysts’ available anywhere and I don’t think I would position this forum as fulfilling that role either.

    On your other points, I have not read the research and nor did I claim to have done so. Stumping up the $2,450 for a copy might be hard to justify for me personally considering I already know a lot about the subject in general (as well as a number of the DAM products being reviewed). What I have done is approach this from the perspective that many potential subscribers might – review the list of vendors to see if there are any that I might have an interest in reading a more in-depth review about for the DAM solution I am being asked to evaluate by my boss or co-workers.

    As with all our comment on DAM News, readers are encouraged to form their own opinion about a topic. We make observations, offer an opinion and invite it to be debated – I don’t really mind if people agree with me or if they don’t. Your description that I am “out to tear [the RSG research] down” is your characterisation rather than mine.

    On your other points, I believe I’m making a legitimate critique of the RSG DAM offer (as it is presented to non-subscribers) which DAM News readers might be interested in – rather than an argument for its own sake as you assert above. Speaking for myself, I welcome the opportunity to debate this with you.

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