This post is part of our series with digital asset management expert Peter Krogh. To kick off Up and Running with DAM, we shared 5 Expert Tips for Getting Started with Your Visual Media Library. Then, we shared tips and best practices for organizing your brand’s photo library with metadata, as well as how to build a metadata policy for your organization. Now, we’re sharing the best practices for storing your organization’s photo archive.
Integrating Local and Cloud Storage
As brand visual media collection managers figure out how they want to store their images and make them accessible to other members of the team, it can be helpful to set up a system that plays on the strengths of both local and cloud-based storage. Each system has its advantages, and working with both gives you the best of both worlds.
Your IT team may believe that local storage is the most secure option, but when the time comes to distribute your assets, using only local storage can be extremely difficult for your team, and it can put your library at risk.
Visual assets your team stores in a local archive may be difficult for outside stakeholders, like freelance designers, media partners, etc., to access, and may be difficult for your own staff members to access if they’re not at their desks.
Using a cloud-based storage system in tandem with your local archive offers accessibility, security and reduced costs. The key to an efficient hybrid system is connectivity.
Cloud-based storage allows you to easily share photos with external stakeholders. Visual asset management systems built to handle brand media libraries allow you to grant view and download permissions for specific visual assets to specific people.
For example, I can grant our head of marketing permission to view and/or download a specific gallery of images in my Libris account, even though this gallery is invisible to anyone browsing around on my public-facing portal.But, you may not want to store your organization’s entire media library in the cloud, because not everything needs to be accessible (think materials that are out of date or off-brand). Material that needs to be saved, but not regularly accessed, can be stored in what’s called a “dark archive” on local storage.
If your organization has a strong IT department with great security, it’s probably very difficult to grant server access to an outside freelancer or contractor. If you don’t have an IT department and you give an unfamiliar freelancer full access to your business’s servers, you are putting your assets at risk. But increasingly, it is extremely important to allow outsiders to access your media assets for design projects, public relations and more. An accessible cloud-based media library allows you to give outsiders access to the materials they need, and creates a firewall to block the rest of your brand’s assets. At the same time, your cloud service should provide top-notch security for the media assets that do need to be made available over the internet.
When you choose a cloud-based visual asset management platform, you should make sure its security is as good, if not better, than your own organization’s security. As Jeffrey Arnold, our VP of Network Operations here at Libris (who used to be in charge of infrastructure security at one of the largest websites in the world), says, “our focus is on that your assets are safe with us and that you can go to bed every night and not have to worry about it – we’ll do the worrying for you.”
Storing media files on a shared network can be extremely expensive. Oftentimes, the size of the images and videos in an organization’s collection can be equal to all of the other data in the rest of the company combined (emails, documents, etc.). So not only are your media assets hogging all of your storage space, but they’re costing your organization big time in the process.
By using a cloud distribution system to make your media accessible, you can then store your “dark archive” of the full set of media on professional level hardware inside the creative department, rather than on expensive enterprise level raid drives. A couple of networked computers and a couple of networked high quality raid devices can store dozens of terabytes for a fraction of what it would cost to host the same collection on enterprise IT hardware.
Once you decide to set up a hybrid library that makes the most of both local and cloud-based storage, you need a way to make the two pieces work together.
One way to do that is through embedded IPTC metadata. Metadata is data about your data. You can attach information, such as keywords, the location where an image was shot, who appears in the photo, what the rights are and what kind of projects it might be used in, directly to a photo. Then, as that photo travels from your local storage to your cloud system, that metadata will come along with it (assuming you are using a professional visual asset management system, and not a photo sharing service like Flickr that strips out metadata). If your team has a strong metadata policy, both systems will have consistent metadata.
Another way to create connectivity between your local and cloud systems is to use software that does the work of connecting for you. A benefit of using software to connect your two systems is that if you make changes to a local copy, you can publish those changes to the cloud, and it will update automatically. So, you can get the photo up to your distribution system as fast as possible, then add more keywords later to improve search results later on.
A cloud-based media library seamlessly connected to your local archive has huge potential to make your team’s visual communication workflow efficient, cost-effective and secure.