During your search for the appropriate Digital Asset Management (DAM) solution, you've no doubt considered SharePoint as a possibility. SharePoint is probably already being utilized in your organization in some way, so it makes sense to see how it measures up. But does SharePoint 2010 offer enough OOTB features to be a legitimate candidate? 

Digital asset management (DAM) is defined by Microsoft as "the process by which an organization creates, obtains, stores, organizes, manages, distributes and eventually disposes of digital assets". In today's organization, managing digital assets in a structured manner is more than likely a mandatory process.

Editor's Note: Read more on DAM: 6 Things to Consider When Selecting A Digital Asset Management Solution

Does SharePoint Provide Enough DAM for You?

To properly answer that question you'll need to identify the core requirements for your organization. If you're looking for an experience that is designed specifically for digital media with a lot of advanced options, then SharePoint is not going to give you that OOTB. But if you're like most, then your goal is to make sure your investment in SharePoint has something to offer your users for their digital content.

Native Features

The main drivers behind SharePont 2010's DAM offering are asset libraries and the new digital media content types for images, audio and video.

Asset libraries are essentially document libraries that have been altered for managing digital media. With these library types, you can preview digital content by hovering over the item in the library itself. It will show you some of the metadata without having to bring up the item on a separate page.

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You’ll even be able to render the content in the browser as long as you have Silverlight installed.

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The great advantage of using SharePoint 2010 to manage your digital assets is that you’ll have all of the other great features of SharePoint at your disposal. Whereas a standalone DAM product might tout workflow or search as a selling point, SharePoint 2010 offers these and many more as standard features within the framework of SharePoint itself.

Search, tagging and rating, workflow, fine-grained permissions, metadata management, collaboration and Office integration are all core features that make SharePoint 2010 an attractive option.

DAM Limitations

Is SharePoint 2010 a perfect solution for DAM? Definitely not. There are some noteworthy limitations that you should evaluate before you commit to this product. But one thing to keep in mind about SharePoint in general, is that it has always been a great enabler of 3rd party enhancements.

It is unique in that there are hundreds of add-ons available to meet specific needs not met by OOTB features. If you have already invested in SharePoint, then one of the limitations listed below may be solved by a small investment in a 3rd party add-on.

  1. No DAM With SharePoint Foundations: The first major limitation is that the new asset library is only available with SharePoint Server 2010. This means that SharePoint Foundation installations simply do not have the ability to create asset libraries.
  2. Silverlight is Required: Asset libraries use Silverlight to render content:  If you need to launch a specific application to render digital content then this is not possible OOTB. A typical use case here is if you have the need to play content that uses customized audio/video codecs that Silverlight cannot playback.
  3. No Auto-Detection of Metadata: SharePoint will not be able to auto-detect common digital metadata like format, duration, size and device maker. Like any other SharePoint library though, you could add custom metadata columns for this data, but it will need to be keyed in manually by the user.
  4. No Support for Thumbnails: Last but not least on my list is the inability to automatically add thumbnails for video files. You can link to an external image that represents that video, but as shown below, SharePoint does not give you the ability to do this on the fly.

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Final Thoughts

As I mentioned previously, SharePoint 2010 will not contend as the ultimate DAM solution. If your firm deals primarily in digital content, then you’ll need to look for a dedicated solution or a 3rd party add-on that enhances the OOTB features, like Equilibrium Media Rich for SharePoint 4.1 or Bamboo SharePoint Video Library.

It’s a good idea to explore SharePoint’s OOTB DAM features as a starting point though. You’ll more than likely realize that SharePoint 2010 covers most of the features you are looking for without having to invest in a disparate system that only deals with digital content.

You can follow more of Mike's SharePoint articles, starting with: 8 Ways Web Content Management has Improved in SharePoint 2010.