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Is a free digital asset management open source solution sufficient for my company?

Digital Asset Management Open Source

With digital asset management (DAM) software, companies can store and manage all their digital content such as images, videos, audio and text files. Especially in the field of marketing, new content and appealing visual images are needed all the time, so more and more media files are needed. A DAM solution stores this content (digital assets) centrally and facilitates their management. Assets can be found faster and easier with the help of metadata than in the classic folder structure. In addition, all relevant employees can have access to the files and work with them. Particularly if companies do not yet use a digital asset management solution, many hesitate to make the investment and only consider free alternatives. In this article we show the advantages and weaknesses of free open source digital asset management software.

What is Open Source Digital Asset Management?

Open source software refers to programmes whose source code is accessible to the public. The source code can be viewed, modified and used by both private individuals and companies. Behind large open source solutions, such as Linux or the Firefox web browser, there are often large communities that further develop the code and correct errors. Open source programmes are also used in the business environment. A study by bitkom shows that seven out of ten German companies in 2019 used open source software. There are also some digital asset management solutions available on the DAM market whose software code can be downloaded and used by companies free of charge.

What are the advantages of an open source DAM system?

The main benefit of open source software is that it is usually offered free of charge. The companies surveyed in the Bitkom study also confirm that cost savings are the main reason for using open source software. In addition, detailed documentation is mostly offered, as well as forums and wikis where people can exchange information and find help with problems. Large projects also benefit from the fact that many different developers work with the source code, so that bugs and security gaps can usually be discovered and fixed quickly. However, this only applies if there is a large, active community behind the open-source programme, which also develops the programme further and works on updates.

What are the arguments against digital asset management freeware?

Smaller communities in particular, run the risk of not being able to help when they are needed most. It is true that smaller open source projects also provide documentation and forums for exchange in order to support the users of the software. But free support is not always the fastest and best support. So with free open source DAM software, it always depends on how large and, above all, how active the community is. Especially if a tricky problem needs to be solved quickly, choosing a commercial digital asset management system and paying for fast and first-class support is advisable.

Is free open source DAM software really free?

In addition, open source projects are usually complex software packages. These need to be set up by qualified IT staff in order to function smoothly. Companies that want to rely on free digital asset management software need to ensure that their IT department is well positioned to implement the project quickly and to support it during operation. Compared to commercial Software as a Service (SaaS) offerings, open source variants also require organisations to take care of where they are hosted (in an external cloud or on-premise on their own servers). In-house IT staff have to deal with documentation or look up what to do in forums if there are problems with the DAM system. Organisations need to factor these staff costs into their calculations. A free open-source DAM solution is only completely free at first glance, as costs for resources such as staff or servers are added or (as is possible with some providers) additional support has to be booked.

Commercial digital asset management solutions and their advantages

Commercial software is often proprietary and its source code is not publicly available. It offers not only support in setting up and implementing the project, but also fast and qualified support during operation. In addition, the professional team of the commercial digital asset management provider is familiar with its product and can usually solve any problems that arise very quickly. By concluding a contract, providers make a performance promise and are obliged to ensure that the digital asset management functions safely and smoothly. Especially smaller free open source projects cannot keep up with this and offer some risks that you should be aware of. Established large providers not only offer a mature product, but usually also better support. Especially if the functions appear similar at first glance, the quality and longevity of the support can be a decisive criterion when choosing the right solution.

As companies produce more and more content and digital assets, the use of a digital asset management system is becoming relevant for an increasing number of organisations. We therefore recommend that the decision for a solution is well-considered. Contact us for a free consultation on how a digital asset management system can support you and what possibilities our Cavok DAM system offers.

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