Open Source, SaaS Or On Premise: Facts Or Vendor Fiction?

One of our featured Digital Asset Management vendors, Widen, have written an article where they compare different types of DAM platform delivery models.  Since Widen are a SaaS vendor, the article is skewed towards SaaS and basically trashes the on-premise and open source options.  For example:

The third main category for digital asset management systems is the open-source software. Buyers are always tempted by these types of systems because the usually low costs seem to immediately outweigh any possible disadvantages. However, buyers usually aren’t aware of the barriers they can run into once the system has become fully adopted. Unlike SaaS DAM systems, the in-house IT department carries out all integration, upgrades, and any changes that need to be made. Some changes might be a piece of cake, but with others can be a bear. Further, open-source DAM put the onus for constantly upgrading and improving the system on your own IT talent, which means you either need to invest heavily in expanding IT or accept that they won’t give time to other tasks.” [Read More]

One would have to wonder why vendors feel the need to highlight competitor platforms for any other reason than they are sufficiently threatening to their business? For a more balanced overview of the options (ironically written by the representative of an on-premise vendor), Edward Smith’s piece offers a more useful and impartial comparison of the SaaS and on-premise options.  The open source myths featured article here on DAM News also offers more factually based arguments rather than assertions and unsupported opinion.

I can see why Widen have used these tactics, but as one of the better known vendors in the market, one would need to conclude that the environment for DAM is getting tougher as we get into 2012 and vendors are increasingly becoming willing to use more desperate measures to hawk their wares and scrabble over diminishing levels of available business.  Certainly, in the last few months I have observed increasing price pressure on vendors from the buyers I advise, many of whom have been demanding (and getting) big discounts from both SaaS and on-premise vendors (and cuts in hosting charges or support fees from open source ones too).  The question is whether this is a case of wider economic trends, excess supply within the DAM/ECM industry or a combination of both factors.

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  • This line is contentious (to say the least):

    “Unlike SaaS DAM systems, the in-house IT department carries out all integration, upgrades, and any changes that need to be made.”

    For those clients we support we do all the maintenance (integration, upgrades, patches etc) either directly to the client’s own servers if they want to host it, or to servers we provide for them (hosted on the Cloud and elsewhere too). The only time we don’t is if the client doesn’t need or want support. So if it’s supported exclusively by the IT department, that will have been a choice made by the organisation themselves, it’s not a pre-requisite characteristic of the open source software license.

    As I said in the article you refer to, nearly every other company who provides an open source DAM system does the same (in addition to the literally thousands of consulting companies who offer support services for open source DAM).

    So, here’s the newsflash: if you want support or hosting for an open source DAM system (and you are prepared to pay someone to do it) then you can get it from the vendor and/or numerous different service providers and for every core platform option currently on offer.

  • I would agree that this is nonsense but I’m not sure about the last paragraph of the original article, I’ve found no pricing pressure from the companies I deal with and the costs of DAM systems are about the same as they were last year.

    I have seen a lot more features being included for the same price though and plenty of freelancers or one-man bands using open source tools and commodity cloud hosting to offer what vendors used to uniquely provide, so I could see it happening.

    More end users seem to be using WCM to do DAM, especially Drupal and EPiServer with some back-end tool doing media processing (e.g MediaMosa for Drupal).

  • Richard,

    That’s exactly the reason I’ve seen pricing pressure on vendors. Lots of IT managers and COOs saying they can just get some open source code and put this together themselves with either system integrators or some freelance help (and saving their companies a sizeable sum in the process). Most of the SaaS vendors use Amazon AWS or Microsoft Azure so even the scalability of a Cloud vendor is easy to reproduce at a very favourable cost.

    I don’t understand why a lot of DAM vendors either can’t focus on positive marketing of the benefits of their products or want to obsess about features real users aren’t asking for. I’m convinced the wider economic environment will bring radical transformation to the DAM landscape due to cost pressures on vendor’s customers which the vendors have yet to catch up with.

    The high demand will probably stay as DAM is now an essential purchase for many businesses, but I think price pressure is almost inevitable and as you say, there are options from the WCM market now that will force the general commercial environment in DAM to become far more competitive.


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