Digital asset management

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Digital Asset Management consists of tasks and decisions surrounding ingesting, annotating, cataloguing, storage and retrieval of digital assets, such as digital photographs, animations, videos and music. Digital asset management systems are computer software and/or hardware systems that aid in the process of digital asset management.

The term "Digital Asset Management" (DAM) also refers to the protocol for downloading, renaming, backing up, rating, grouping, archiving, optimizing, maintaining, thinning, and exporting files.

The term "Media Asset Management" (MAM) is sometimes used as a sub-category of "Digital Asset Management", mainly for audio or video content. The more recent concept of Enterprise Content Management (ECM) often describes solutions which address similar features but in a wider range of industries or applications.[1]

Generally the "asset" being managed is collected and stored in a digital format. There is usually a target version of that referred to as "essence" and is generally the highest resolution and fidelity representation. The asset is detailed by its "metadata". Metadata is the description of the asset and the description depth can vary depending on the needs of the system, designer, or user. Metadata can describe, but is not limited to, the description of: asset content (what is in the package?); the means of encoding/decoding (e.g. JPEG, tar, MPEG 2); provenance (history to point of capture); ownership; rights of access; as well as many others. There exist some predefined standards and template for metadata such as Dublin Core and PBCore. In cases of systems that contain large size asset essences, such as MPEG 2 and JPEG2000 for the cases of images and video, there are usually related "proxy" copies of the essence. A proxy copy is a lower resolution representation of the essence that can be used as a reference in order to reduce the overall bandwidth requirements of the DAM system infrastructure. It can be generated and retained at the time of ingestion of the asset simultaneous or subsequent to the essence, or it can be generated on the fly using transcoders.

Smaller DAM systems are easier to categorize as to content and usage since they would normally operate in a particular operational context. This would hold true for systems attached to audio or video production systems. The key differentiators here are the type of decoders and I/O (input/output) used for the asset ingest, use and outgest. Since the essence (and proxy copies) are described by metadata, the metadata can be used as a guide to the playout decoders, transcoders, and channels as well as a input to access control rules. This means that the essence can be treated as a non-described storage object except when being accessed for viewing or editing. There is relevance to this when considering the overall design and use of larger implementations. The closer the asset is to the ingest/edit/playout tool, the greater the technical architecture needs to accommodate delivery requirements such as bandwidth, latency, capacity, access control, availability of resources,etc. The further the asset moves into a general storage architecture (e.g. Hierarchical Storage Management [HSM]) the more it can be treated as a general blob (binary large object) that is typically held in the filesystem, not the database. The impact of this set of needs means that it is possible and reasonable to design larger systems using smaller, more expensive performance systems at the edge of the network where the essence is being used in its intended form and less expensive systems further back for storage and archival. This type of design is an example of Infrastructure Convergence Architecture where the line of business operations technology and IT technologies are dependent on one another for functional and performance (non-functional requirements) requirements.


[edit] Types of Digital Asset Management systems

The following broad categories of digital asset management systems may be distinguished:

  • Brand asset management systems, with a focus on facilitation of content re-use within large organizations. Here the content is largely marketing- or sales-related, for example, product imagery, logos, marketing collateral or fonts, to give a few examples.
  • Library asset management systems, with a focus on storage and retrieval of large amounts of infrequently changing media assets, for example in video or photo archiving.
  • Production asset management systems, with a focus on storage, organization and revision control of frequently changing digital assets, for example in digital media production.
  • Digital supply chain services, pushing digital content out to digital retailers (e.g. music, videos and games).

[edit] Providers

Enterprise-level solutions often involve scalable, reliable, configurable products that can handle vast numbers of assets (files) as well as large numbers of simultaneous users, workflows, or use cases (multiple applications simultaneously operating against the system). Enterprise systems may, but do not necessarily, include customized products or features added on to the base system or custom developed to match an organization's workflow. Enterprise class systems are also applicable to small to medium businesses (SMBs), or departments or work groups within an organization. In many cases these systems enter a company in one department and eventually expand to others or the entire enterprise as its utility becomes proven, understood and valued. Enterprise systems are offered as installed software or as Software as a Service (SaaS) -- hosted, web-based offers that are managed and maintained externally.

For individuals either proprietary or open source applications can be adequate for digital asset management. Some image viewers provide management functionality, including backing up, organizing, and reading/writing metadata and keywords.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ Intro to Digital Asset Management: Just what is a DAM? by Magan Arthur

[edit] Further reading

  • Jacobsen, Jens; Schlenker, Tilman; Edwards, Lisa (2005). Implementing a Digital Asset Management System: For Animation, Computer Games, and Web Development. Focal Press. ISBN 0-240-80665-4. 
  • Krogh, Peter (2005). The DAM Book: Digital Asset Management for Photographers. O'Reilly Media. ISBN 0-596-10018-3. 
  • Austerberry, David (2006). Digital Asset Management, Second Edition. Focal Press. ISBN 0-240-80868-1. 
  • Mauthe, Andreas and Thomas, Peter (2004). Professional Content Management Systems: Handling Digital Media Assets. Wiley. ISBN 0-470-85542-8. 
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