DAM Hosting Options

Benefits and Considerations for Every Hosting Scenario

By Kyle Henke


There are several ways to host your DAM—self-hosted, cloud-hosted, managed-hosting, or a hybrid of these options. Your hardware and hosting design are fundamental to maximizing the performance and success of your system and assets. Each method can provide benefits, but come with essential considerations.

Determine your hosting options early in the planning process. Understanding where and how your DAM will be hosted and managed can impact your choices and capabilities in the future. You should consider scalability, security, flexibility, and accessibility in your DAM hosting decision. Your infrastructure, bandwidth, and the experience of your staff will all dictate how you develop and keep your system running at its best. Prioritize the features and functionality that best support your stakeholders' needs and requirements to set your team up for long-term success.


Self-hosting, or on-premise, is an internal model that allows for the most direct control of your DAM. In this model, your organization is responsible for managing and maintaining every component of your DAM—hardware, software, security, upgrades, etc. To maintain your DAM, you need a team active in every aspect and component to manage, support, and upgrade numerous system integrations. Internal resources and technical expertise are essential in a self-hosted system.

Self-hosting requires a significant investment upfront to build up your infrastructure to host the DAM, but that initial investment will set up your organization’s technical infrastructure for the future. Self-hosting won’t incur subscription costs, which can free a budget to grow in a thoughtful and concentrated manner.

If your organization employs technical staff capable of implementing and maintaining your DAM, has existing infrastructure, or can build the infrastructure you need, self-hosting is a great option.



The DAM and your assets are hosted at your local facility and built on technologies chosen by internal stakeholders that have investigated and researched options to develop the best implementation possible.


Direct connectivity to your network can benefit your system's speed and user experience, providing fast and consistent access and delivery of assets internally. Improves your end-user experience and maximizes the use of the system and your assets.


Leverages available internal resources by providing direct access to technical support for your organization and end-users. Requiring an internal support team with a knowledge base that understands your DAM means your team can respond quickly to functionality requests or technical issues. 


Self-hosting provides the ultimate cost control. While there can be high costs at startup—servers, storage—that cost is not routine and ongoing, making it significantly less costly year-over-year when compared to other models.



Self-hosting requires a significant initial hardware investment—servers, storage, bandwidth, etc.—before even considering software, maintenance, training, and other necessities that come into play throughout the discovery and implementation process. 


IT support becomes an essential internal service to your organization and DAM in this model. The support required to keep your DAM secure, accessible, and maintained must be a prominent feature and facet of the work.


Scaling and upgrading the system will require additional resources and expertise, both financial and technical. System growth can be anticipated and planned for, but can quickly expand beyond current capabilities sooner than expected, and require quick adjustments and action to sustain the system.


The DAM is an active system that requires constant accessibility and performance. Power, cooling, and bandwidth requirements must be managed and adjusted based on use and need.


Best suited for

Prepared and strategic organizations with dedicated IT departments or technical staff; with infrastructure already in place or being established and implemented with growth in mind; and with an ability to build a knowledge base to share internally with the organization.


Cloud-hosting places your DAM system on remote servers hosted by a third party, with access provided through the internet. The infrastructure for a cloud-hosting option is a subscription service—you don’t own the resources managing your DAM; instead, you pay for them in an ongoing agreement with a third party. 

Cloud-hosting has become more intriguing as it becomes more established and easier to implement and manage, enabling quick integration and innovative uses of your media assets. Cloud-hosting frees up technical staff requirements and infrastructure needs, allowing you to focus on developing and implementing your DAM governance strategy to create the best experience for your end-users.

A significant benefit of cloud-hosting is easy scalability. You can increase your bandwidth or add processing, memory, and storage quickly and efficiently. Hosting your DAM in the cloud removes the need for your organization to dedicate internal resources to the management and maintenance of your system. 

The downsides to cloud-hosting are worth considering. If your organization hopes to develop tools or technologies around the DAM, a host may limit those capabilities. You don’t have complete control over your DAM’s back-end infrastructure. Are there limitations to custom development or API access? What will your cloud-host allow?

A significant hindering factor to cloud-hosting, particularly for large DAMs focused on video content, are ingress and egress fees. Many cloud-hosting companies charge for downloading and uploading content from their network based on bandwidth usage, meaning video and large file format content can incur hefty fees in addition to your subscription costs.



Cloud-hosting models provide organizations with easy scalability. Future growth of an organization can be planned and intentional; anticipated infrastructure expansion needs can be determined and staged holistically. Without being addressed proactively, unanticipated growth can slow processes, performance, and cause infrastructure problems. Cloud-hosting allows for intentional and unanticipated growth to be addressed quickly and efficiently in a way that will be essential for your end-users. As you grow, a cloud-hosted system is agile enough to grow with you.

Cloud-hosting handles your system's infrastructure, maintenance, upgrades, security, and routine repairs and improvements, potentially eliminating the need for onsite infrastructure, hardware, and software technical support.

Regardless of location or access method, an end-user will experience the system the same as anyone else—a boon for organizations with remote staff or external partnerships that require access, unlike models that rely on local network access.



Cloud-hosting models incur ongoing subscription costs that can rise year over year, which can be planned for, but are not necessarily consistent or ideal for an organization. Multi-year contracts can be established with fixed incremental costs, but those subscription fees often do not include upgrades, enhancements, or additional growth.


By not implementing and supporting the infrastructure, you have less control over the hardware and infrastructure running your DAM. The third-party hosting provider determines how the system is built and maintained, and specific capabilities may be unavailable or need to be predetermined beforehand.


Ingress and egress fees can be unpredictable and costly beyond the subscription, upgrade, and enhancement costs incurred with a cloud-host. Ingress and egress fees are determined by incoming and outgoing content. The fees may be less consequential for smaller systems, but you will see fees beyond your subscription costs when dealing with hundreds of terabytes or petabytes.


Leaving or exiting a cloud-based infrastructure requires a comprehensive exit strategy you should establish during the initial investment period. It’s vital to know what you can do with your assets and how you can export or migrate them out of service once the subscription or agreement ends.



Organizations that want a scalable system without supporting or maintaining internal hardware or don’t have the dedicated technical staff to support an on-premise system. Additionally, useful for organizations with geographically-distributed teams; whether a hybrid on-site/off-site workplace structure or an organization that includes external partners who can leverage the accessibility of a cloud-based system to provide a consistent user experience.


Hybrid-hosting combines strategies to leverage the advantages and benefits of multiple hosting models. A standard implementation of hybrid-hosting combines self-hosting and cloud-hosting. The method involves self-hosting the primary servers and storage for your assets, while utilizing the cloud for your system, distribution, backup, and archive of your assets. A hybrid model allows you to have local access to your assets, flexible management of your system with distributed accessibility, and automation of your backups and archives to a secondary location.

The benefits of hybrid-hosting are performance, control, and accessibility. You can add time-saving automation and other custom functionality by combining on-premise hardware with cloud technologies. System accessibility and asset management can be managed and maintained to leverage internal technical support and expertise with services that can provide additional support and management of your system.



Hybrid-hosting allows you to leverage the benefits of different hosting models and technologies to optimize your DAM performance, opening the doors to creative system design. You can mix and maximize existing investments in your available infrastructure and hardware with cloud solutions for scalability, performance, and accessibility.


Implementing a combination of hosting models also opens the opportunity for customization and enhanced functionality for system and software integrations outside your DAM infrastructure.


A hybrid-hosting model can provide broader accessibility and a consistent experience for on-site and off-site end-users compared to self-hosting. Your internal team and external partners will have a shared experience.



Depending on how you configure your hybrid model, you may incur upfront costs to build and implement your infrastructure on top of ongoing subscription costs for cloud-based services.


System management, maintenance, upgrades, repairs, and compatibility may require additional internal or external support, depending on how your system and service components are hosted and managed.


Best suited for

Organizations with internal technical expertise to maintain and manage the system, and understand how to integrate with different technologies. Particularly for organizations that require specifications or have robust DAM needs that can utilize hybrid models' versatility and customization.


Managed-hosting, sometimes referred to as SaaS (Software as a Service), is a service option for organizations that need a partner to help build and maintain their DAM. Managed-hosting models are supported on dedicated, high-performance hardware hosted at a service provider's data center, leveraging their infrastructure and technical support to manage and maintain your system. Modern system designs often comprise a hybrid model, including traditional servers and storage with cloud components, while hosted off-site—providing users with a consistent system experience, accessibility, and functionality for the entire organization.

DAM hosting providers offer knowledge and experience, allowing more flexibility and opportunities to customize and optimize your DAM based on unique workflows and external system integrations. Managed-hosting may include additional support services like taxonomy design, metadata cataloging, and system optimization to accelerate implementation and adoption to increase your return on investment.


Some DAM software companies may offer to host and can be a beneficial solution if your production environment is already utilizing their ecosystem. However, more robust system integrations may encounter customization limitations or have an inability to move outside a specific software ecosystem.



Some companies specialize in DAM system management, while being software and system agnostic. If you have already identified a DAM or need help in the discovery process, managed-hosting providers can work with you on implementation, migration, or optimization. 


Managed-hosting provides enhanced accessibility. Your system and assets are hosted off-site, ensuring consistent and constant accessibility. Your users will receive the same system experience regardless of location—on-site or remote.


Creates an experience similar to self or hybrid-hosting models, except the management and maintenance of your system are provided and do not require dedicated internal technical support.



While you don’t have to provide the infrastructure and implementation costs of a self-hosted system, there are ongoing costs for managed-hosting and support services, like a subscription service similar to cloud-hosting.


It’s essential to understand the service provider’s ability to add features, customizations, and additional support services to maximize your investment. If your organization has specific requirements then it is imperative to communicate that to any possible service providers and understand their capabilities.


Best suited for

Organizations with limited technical staff and resources to manage and maintain their system. These organizations can take advantage of the experience and service provided by managed-hosting providers, which can free up time to focus on using the DAM, rather than system management and maintenance.


What is the best way to leverage your organization's resources and implement a successful DAM? DAMs are living, breathing, and evolving systems adapting to user needs and organizational changes. It can feel overwhelming, but it’s about building the best DAM experience possible. There is no right or wrong strategy, since every organization has different priorities and goals, and hosting solutions provide options with different strengths. Set yourself up for success by considering your hosting options, investigating fully, and moving forward in the best direction for your organization.