What is Open SaaS and What Does it Mean For DAM?

Open SaaS

Dan Huby, Project Lead of open source DAM system, ResourceSpace has contributed a feature article about a concept known as ‘Open SaaS’, The Rise of Open SaaS and its Implications for Digital Asset Management.  The basis of this is open source software offered to users using a SaaS (Software as a Service) or Cloud-based delivery model:

Coined in 2011 by the creator of the Drupal content management system, Dries Buytaert, Open SaaS refers to web-based software as a service applications that are based on open-source code.  This software is hosted, supported and maintained by the service provider. Upgrades and enhancements are also controlled by a central provider, but the roadmap for an Open SaaS application’s development is often led by its users.” [Read More]

Dan presents some arguments in-favour of the approach and also dispels a few of the common myths and FUD (Fear Uncertainty and Doubt) about open source (e.g. that it is insecure because the code can be viewed by anybody).  A great point made in the article is that open source is far more common than you think.  It’s fair to say that the vast majority of DAM systems (whatever their licence) all use open source components of one kind or another, for example ImageMagick and FFMPEG are quite common for image and video processing, respectively.  Indeed, in some cases it goes further and the entire system is built using open source technologies, even though the resulting product itself might not be offered to users in this manner.  It’s my own contention that all software should be offered with an open source licence, or at least one that allows an end user to view the source code.  I have made this point in a few other articles in the past on DAM News and elsewhere.

The importance of an open source approach becomes particularly important in the context of SaaS/Cloud delivery.  If you have an on-premise solution and the vendor suffers a commercial failure (or simply decides not to support a given product any longer) then it is likely to keep running for an indefinite period of time, even though you are limited in what you can do with it over the long-term.

By contrast, with SaaS/Cloud, if the service is withdrawn, that’s it, you have no DAM and the necessity to migrate elsewhere becomes even more urgent (with all the upheaval that entails).  A lot of these concepts can seem quite technical and esoteric to DAM purchasing authorities, but the risk is quite clear.  If you don’t have access to the source code, your DAM (and the years spent building it into the business asset it has become) is somewhat at the mercy of the vendor – or their liquidators if they have ceased to trade.  There are various methods to mitigate this risk such as escrow schemes etc. but these are all more complicated and messy than simply having access to the code.

If you are considering purchasing a DAM system right now, these this is a subject which it makes good sense to get yourself acquainted with.  Even if a specifically open source DAM is not in your list of potential candidates, the benefits of the Open SaaS model should be considered and discussed as part of the RFP and/or contract negotiations with your shortlisted vendors.

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