Digital Asset Management integration with CDN (Akamai)

August 8, 2012


Content Delivery Networks, such as Akamai, are incredible mechanisms for massive distribution of media. They solve a number of problems for companies wanting to broadcast information on the Internet. And they give end users what they want: super fast access to content. But some organizations are concerned with more than just delivery of assets; they need to manage those CDN-enabled assets in complex ways, and not just in advance of distribution.

DAM systems are the lifeblood of any organization that depends on digital assets; and when integrated with a CDN, the combination can offer a highly effective tool for large-scale content distribution management.

Increasingly, organizations are finding that an integration of DAM and CDN offer the best of both worlds: the speed of distribution along with granular search, metadata, transcoding and permissions.



Akamai's EdgePlatform consisting of over 61000 servers in 1000 networks across 70 countries. This platform handles a significant portion of the world's Web traffic, and gives clients the assurance that files will be delivered — fast.

While CDNs have more typically been deployed when assets are “public” — more and more, CDN applications are required to do much more. What if you need to control who sees particular assets? If so, it’s likely that those access rights are dynamic and changing, so you’ll need data and rights management (including things like watermarking) which can be done by non-technical people.

Putting the M in CDN

Often a DAM implementation is sought as an evolution from workgroup file server. This is  classic scenario that cries out for “digital asset management”: team members push/pull files on a shared drive, band it becomes a mess: duplication, incorrect versions, no usage/rights info, limited permissions, and limited search capability.

Just as fileservers can benefit from DAM, so can CDNs. Often organizations are uploading their broadcast assets to the CDN analogously to the workgroup example above — and with the same downsides. And that’s why you may want to integrate your DAM with your CDN. Doing so adds so much more to your high-availability distribution system: comprehensive management, granular search, metadata, watermarking, permissions and much more.

Beyond “management”, you also need to consider usability. Consider offering intuitive search and browse of a large repository based on an organization’s existing metadata. Do achieve this, you need a way to easily update metadata on these assets, to ensure “findability”. Another aspect of usability is asset thumbnails and previews, allowing end-users to visually compare and inspect assets before downloading; the DAM is very efficient at maintaining an accurate thumbnail, view, and other proxy files — such as lower-bandwidth video and keyframes.

globe_americasCDN + DAM

Organizations are finding that an integration of DAM and Content Delivery Networks offer the best of both worlds. Managers looking to deploy CDN integrated with the DAM have a wide variety of options and controls at their fingertips, including:

    • Permissions
    • Metadata
    • Search
    • Browse
    • Preview
    • Watermark
    • Expiration
    • Automated Workflows

Features like these are a small subset of out-of-the-box functionality of the NetXposure DAM system. With a DAM + CDN in place, you have a public-facing media search engine, controls over who sees what, and accurate search results to highly specific queries (based on complex metadata) — and hyper-fast global downloads.

Example Use Case: a Global Subscription Service

One example of this integration-approach is providing subscription services for content. The content needs to be delivered anywhere in the world, quickly. So the CDN distribution is a must.

You may also want to provide subscription segments — user pricing tiers that correspond to increased access levels. Additionally, you also want to tempt non-subscribers with previews, and you would rely on watermarks for these preview assets.

The entire system would rely on a very robust search engine,  allowing users to find the exact content they’re looking for. Search is driven by well managed metadata. WIth global audiences, Keywords and descriptions  should be localized into multiple languages. Here’s where the DAM excels: taxonomy and faceted search are built-in.

Lastly, the entire subscription system governs access, and the DAM’s permission system drives this portion; the CDN is simply configured to verify access against the DAM for each particular query.

Bottom Line

When looking to combine CDN and DAM, consider that it’s not just a CDN, it’s not just search, it’s also the ease of asset management afforded by an enterprise DAM system.

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