Blog | July 30, 2009

Software-as-a-Service Approach to DAM Implementation

by Jody Vandergriff in Digital Asset Management

You have probably heard the term Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) floating around the internet by now. But what does it mean in terms of Digital Asset Management solutions? You have many options for DAM vendors, but one important consideration is whether to license DAM software and run it on in-house servers or to implement a turnkey cloud solution, a SaaS approach. Let’s take a closer look at the differences:

Deployment Time

SaaS solutions are often times turn-key. Since the vendor is providing the setup and hosting for the service, there is usually a minimal amount of time needed to deploy your DAM solution. After all, your SaaS vendor is an expert in working within their IT environment and with their own software. In the licensed model, you will need to install the DAM system on your own servers which means you first need to identify and purchase your servers, configure them, and then finally install a complex database-driven application. You may opt to hire your vendor to install the application onsite, but this premium service is certain to include a premium price tag. The entire process can take months or even years to implement versus a few weeks for the SaaS solution.


Scalability refers to the ability for your system to handle growing numbers of assets, users, and bandwidth usage. SaaS companies maintain complex and expensive architectures specifically designed with scalability in mind. However, when implementing an in-house system, scalability often depends on your own server and hardware investment. This means you run the risk of outgrowing your system over time.

Upgrades and Support

A huge benefit of a Software-as-a-Service, such as a hosted DAM system, is that they almost always include such perks as ongoing support and regular system and feature upgrades. Since the DAM system is hosted by the vendor, upgrades are usually seamless and transparent for you (ie- very little if any downtime). In the case of licensed software, your license may or may not include upgrades. Often times, you will have to purchase a new license for the latest version of the software only to be tasked with the difficult job of installing the update. In addition, support plans are usually expensive add-ons to licensed software.


Security and data protection are top priorities for SaaS companies. In order to provide an excellent service level, they usually have round-the-clock monitoring of your data, regular security scans, and 24/7 onsite surveillance. To implement a similar environment onsite would be a costly and complicated undertaking.


SaaS often includes a Service Level Guarantee which specifies an uptime assurance among other things. Implementing a system architecture onsite that can provide the same level of uptime is extremely expensive and a difficult task.


There is a huge overhead with adopting and installing an in-house DAM system due to two, often times overlooked, requirements – hardware and IT. The cost of the server requirements alone often times far exceeds the price of a SaaS subscription, not to mention the enormous IT expense in order to install, maintain, upgrade, and support the system. Even in the case when your company already has an IT team to handle this work, it is often times not a high priority and can be difficult to get things done in a timely manner.

Total Cost of Ownership

After reading through the above points, it should be very apparent that SaaS is a much more affordable approach. SaaS costs are usually bundled into a comprehensive subscription price whereas the costs for in-house implementations include a number of factors such as licensing and upgrading the software, ongoing support, servers and hardware, and IT resources.

Don’t let the low costs fool you though. SaaS systems are packed with just as many features and functionalities for managing your digital asset workflows as licensed software. And since SaaS is based entirely on web technologies, it is far easier for users to navigate and use.

At Webdam, we are seeing more and more companies and institutions of all sizes adopting SaaS solutions over in-house implementations due to its ease-of-implementation, use, and ongoing support.  But before you choose a SaaS vendor, be sure they are a true SaaS provider.  Read the follow-up article that explores the differences between hosted software and SaaS.