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Author Topic: Software to consider at this point in time?  (Read 10749 times)
cwilli
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« on: November 24, 2008, 09:57:10 PM »

I read the seven previous threads on this subject and wanted to query those with multi-user DAM experience what software I should be researching and considering at this point, on the eve of 2009.  Our needs are a little different then the previous posts and things have also evolved quite a bit.  We are planning to build a networked DAM system for seven PC workstations/clients who use Adobe Creative Suite extensively for their print design work.  We have about 2 terrabytes of photo assets right now that will be housed on a 3 terrabyte, RAID 5 file server (to be purchased).  I have looked extensively at Extensis Portfolio Server 8.5 which looks like a viable and worthy contender.  What other software(s) should I be looking at and comparing for building this system?  What are the perceived pros and cons of your suggested software and how it catalogs and possibly integrates with CS3?  The designers/workstations will be working mainly with tiff and jpeg photo files so RAW and DNG capabilities are not a factor in our workflow.  We need multi-user access to the same catalogs.  Thank you in advance for any help and advice you may offer.

chip

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peterkrogh
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« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2008, 07:22:00 AM »

Chip,
I think Extensis is probably the only real choice at the moment.  I'd be interested to hear if there is *anything* else out there that would give you multiple simultaneous users in that cost range.
Peter
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cwilli
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« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2008, 03:35:53 PM »

Peter,
Thanks for the reply.  A bit of time has passed since my last post and yes, we are strongly considering Extensis Portfolio. We are also considering Canto Cumulus and PhotoShelter MU as a possible solution.  I was really surprised by PhotoShelter's interface and ability to publish lightboxes over the web for distribution to other departments.  Those add-on web modules with the two traditional software solutions are very expensive.  Is Expressions Media a possible solution to the environment I described below?  Are there any other softwares I should be considering.  I got a definitive answer on the Adobe message boards that LightRoom simply will not allow the sharing of a single catalog among several clients/users.  Thanks for any follow up you may be able to offer.

chip   
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peterkrogh
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« Reply #3 on: December 20, 2008, 04:14:43 PM »

Chip,
Expression could be used in a work-around, but it would be far from ideal. While more than one user can open a catalog at once, only one can change it.

As for Cumulus, do you have some kind of VAR that is going to set it up for you? Do they have an example of an installation they can show you?  I found it to be a difficult program to understand, and would be cautious about moving ahead without talking to (and preferably observing) someone who has been using it in a comparable environment.

Have you looked at MediaBeacon?The are fully XMP compatible, and I hear good things about them.  I like this leadoff part of their about us:

Corporate Overview

MediaBeacon Inc. is a stable, healthy and focused software product development organization. We focus exclusively on digital asset management and have unsurpassed expertise in this niche market.

   -    Founded in 1989 in Minneapolis, USA
   -    Self-funded (no debt or venture capital)
   -    Profitable in each year of operation
   -    Global distributor and integrator network
   -    30+ Employees in development
   -    100+ Employees in worldwide channel sales
   -    200+ Enterprise class deployments worldwide

It's an interesting world we live in where the first thing to share is "we're not about to go bankrupt"

I'd give them a shout.
Peter
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rogerhoward
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« Reply #4 on: December 22, 2008, 11:10:09 AM »

MediaBeacon has an interesting product for certain - if you're looking for other multiuser DAMs in that range, there are a number of others to look at.

- NetXPosure
- ADAM
- Elvis (brand new, but has some promise)
- Artesia (at the very high-end)
- NorthPlains (likewise, high-end)
- MediaBin (likewise - pricey and powerful)

These are all priced significantly higher than most anything discussed on this forum.

There are even a few promising open source products... ranging from the simple to something more:

- ResourceSpace
- Alfresco
- OpenEdit
- Razuna

-Roger Howard
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Roger Howard
peterkrogh
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« Reply #5 on: December 22, 2008, 04:45:04 PM »

Roger,
Do you know how many of these are XMP-aware without expensive customization?
Any experience with these?
Peter
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rogerhoward
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« Reply #6 on: December 22, 2008, 05:05:30 PM »

MediaBeacon is highly XMP-aware... it uses XMP, as I understand it, as primary storage for metadata, with the database backend providing mainly indexing for fast searching and storage of sensitive information not embedded in XMP.

NetXPosure is, I believe, pretty strongly XMP aware - no surprise from a company with roots in working with Adobe enterprise products like Generator, Adobe Graphics Server, etc.

ADAM has XMP read/write support out of the box from what I've seen, though it may require configuration (which is nice) to determine how/when fields are mapped between XMP and your SQL backend. It looked pretty flexible in this regard.

I know NorthPlains and Artesia have both had XMP plugins for some years but I have no specific knowledge of these, or even whether they are still options or are now bundled in the main product.

ResourceSpace has limited XMP support - it's free (and open source) and has a pretty active community of developers around it. It's not quite in the same league as those above, but it's a nice little product that looks like it's going to do well... would be great in some environments, for instance - not a production DAM but looks great for exposing a collection at a small institution to internal and external users.

I don't know the Razuna, OpenEdit or Alfresco XMP stories yet... these products haven't quite grabbed me.

Ultimately to know what software you should consider, the best place to start is budget and scope... for instance:

1. What's a realistic licensing budget for you? $1-10k? $20-50k? More?
2. What are you looking to do with your DAM - are you looking for a system to manage production workflow (in other words, do you want to manage work-in-progress, or just finished assets... do you need approvals/reviews workflow, or just a catalog... etc)? Looking for a basic library/repository? Do you want your DAM to act as an external storefront? Do you want integration with desktop tools - for instance, connecting your DAM through Adobe Bridge - or a standalone product with a Web-based interface?
3. What kind of technical capacity do you have at your disposal? Do you have a developer who can customize/extend an open source product? Do you even have an IT group, and if so do they have specific requirements (application platform, database platform, etc)?

Personally, I'm not a *huge* fan of Portfolio - and I currently support a Portfolio system (with SQL Connect and NetPublish) - but it does fill a niche, though I expect if they don't get more competitive and really improve the product we'll see new products taking away what market it has left. I was never a fan of Cumulus either, but it is far more configurable - and far uglier! - than Portfolio, there's just more potential in Cumulus if you really understand administering it. Portfolio, to me, is little more than Excel with thumbnails (being harsh to make a point, of course).

Cheers -R
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Roger Howard
rogerhoward
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« Reply #7 on: December 22, 2008, 05:10:24 PM »

Roger,
Do you know how many of these are XMP-aware without expensive customization?
Any experience with these?
Peter

For what it's worth - I've some amount of experience, either through detailed demos/reviews, or hands-on use, with most of the systems I've mentioned... but I'm also always a little hesitant to share details, as much of the product information for the enterprise products is not public (just try to even find valid, useful screenshots for most of them!), which is why you don't see much int he way of public reviews - in fact, the only good source I know for review-level information is CMS Watch, which charges about $2000 I believe for their annual report.

Enterprise products are sold differently - if you think you're in the right budget ballpark to buy one (and their sales people will be happy to tell you!) then the best approach with them is to engage with their sales team and put them through the ringer - make them demonstrate exactly what it is you're interested in, in a live demonstration - provide them specific scenarios and ask them to show how they would address those scenarios in their product. Chances are though, you won't get many answers unless you show at least plausible interest in the product. A one-man shop with $500 to spend isn't going to get much info out of any of them.

-R
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Roger Howard
peterkrogh
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« Reply #8 on: December 22, 2008, 06:36:23 PM »

Roger,
Thanks for the information.  When I've encountered some of these in consulting, XMP support has been limited and expensive.  That's one reason I think MediaBeacon looks so good. (Native, fully extensible XMP is a must for a system that will deal with photography due to parametric imaging.)

Do you know if there are any among these that is XMP-aware and under $10,000 to implement? My impression has been that Portfolio (which I agree is not ideal) is the only one that can be had for that little.

Peter
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rogerhoward
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« Reply #9 on: December 22, 2008, 07:16:43 PM »

I can't speak specifically to pricing on the enterprise packages, but I think it's safe to say that $10k won't even get you in the door.

The open source systems are obviously different in that regard - and, particularly if you have a technical administrator, they might be good enough, or even great, in some roles.

However, even a fully packed Portfolio system will run you more than $10k, depending on the options.
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Roger Howard
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« Reply #10 on: December 22, 2008, 07:19:23 PM »

I should offer this - in a collaborative environment that is 1) low on budget, 2) needs a workflow/production DAM, and 3) also needs a distribution DAM, you could go a long way with VersionCue + one of the open source Web gallery packages (ResourceSpace, Gallery2, etc)

-R
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Roger Howard
peterkrogh
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« Reply #11 on: December 22, 2008, 07:26:16 PM »

I had a feeling that was still the answer.

On a related note, have you seen the demo of Gridiron flow?
Very promising.
Peter
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aniemann
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« Reply #12 on: December 31, 2008, 05:30:04 PM »

We use xMedia in a multiuser environment by having read only distribution copies of catalogs in a separate read only folder on the server. Any number of users can access these read only distribution catalogs at the same time. Data entry and editting versions of these catalogs are kept in a separate locked folder and copied from there to the distribution folder at regular intervals.

We need only a few full licenses. Most users have the reader which is free.

There are benefits:
-price is a big one, as any other approach will, I believe, cost upward of $10,000 and require more IT type management.
-no special server administration skills required
-only one person does the data entry which keeps it consistant
-the xMedia interface is still one of the easiest to use for casual users (I believe this to be a bigger issue than is often given credit)

Drawbacks:
-with many images you end up having to split collections across several catalogs which makes upkeep and searching awkward

Andy
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peterkrogh
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« Reply #13 on: January 01, 2009, 10:13:40 AM »

Andy,
Glad to hear that's working. What kind of business is this in?

The other drawback is that as individual users look through catalogs, they can't add their organizational information back.  But that does seem to be a reasonable trade-off in your case.
Peter
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cwilli
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« Reply #14 on: January 07, 2009, 12:16:16 PM »

Thanks for the information and advise.  Things have changed quite a bit from the original viewpoint that Extensis was the only real choice.  There is a lot more to research now.  I'm curious about the VersionCue + open source approach. 

Aniemann, do I understand correctly that you maintain two copies of each file?  One in the locked folder and one in the distribution folder? 

Thanks,
Chip

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