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Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Offsite Asset Management

New services do much more than provide safe storage for your image files

Offsite Asset ManagementFor the past few years, we've been operating under a sort of ad-hoc series of image-delivery options. Falling back on the usual way of doing business, professional photographers have sent digital files to clients on CD or DVD or, more recently, have used the Internet and FTP technology. Image management, storage and delivery will become a more streamlined and standardized process in the future. Some of the leading companies are already moving to act like a hub in a wheel, interfacing between the photographer at one end and the client at the other.

There are several good reasons for this evolution. Your images are your business' primary assets obviously. You wouldn't keep all of your money under your mattress (if you do, it might be time to consult a financial planner), so why would you keep your images in the equivalent of a mason jar buried in the backyard? When I was in college (before the digital revolution), I had a photography professor who beat the importance of proper storage into our heads. All images went into archival storage in fireproof safes. Images that were the most valuable—those that sold for an established rate—were duplicated and the originals placed in archival storage in a bank vault. There was only one original and it was to be kept as safe as possible. After all, that original piece of film represented a significant future revenue stream.

Today, we're fortunate in that we can make digital files that are exact copies of an original image (assuming it was captured with a digital camera) or excellent digital duplicates of original film. Redundancy is the best way to ensure that your image files will remain safe. One easy way to achieve this is through a RAID, which automatically keeps mirrored copies of all of your image files. As good as a RAID is, it's only as secure as the building where you keep it. We don't want to be doomsayers here, but fires, hurricanes and earthquakes do happen. If you think it can't happen to you, consider what happened to the set archive owned by the makers of Wallace And Gromit. They lost almost everything when the warehouse burned to the ground last October.

The importance of off-site redundancy—having a place where you can keep image files in the event of a catastrophe—can't be overstated. The companies who are stepping in to create this kind of service haven't been satisfied with simply building digital vaults. After all, if you can store your images, you should also be able to access them—and give others access to them, manage them, etc. We fully expect the integration of this functionality to accelerate in the future.


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