Four Layers of Digital Asset Management

Modern digital asset management (DAM) systems are exceptionally complex products, requiring features and perfections at various levels. Here I’ve broken down these into four logical layers. Each layer builds on the other, and neither could exist without the other in a good DAM system.

The Foundation

First, it needs to be there when you need it, and be fast! That's the foundation layer. This requires huge amounts of optimizations because there can be hundreds of 1000's, even millions, of various assets and their associated data in the system. And it must be stable, with an uptime of 99.99%.

Image Management

Next, a DAM system needs to be an excellent image management system. Think back to personal image file managers such as digiKam, ACDSee, or even Google Photos. Most would have been desktop applications run on local computers. Individuals looking for content need to be able to find the files (aka assets) they're looking for easily and quickly. Those contributing, organizing, tagging and generally managing the 1000's or hundreds of 1000's of images need a miriad of features. A few very important of those include excellent tagging capabilities, including auto-tagging, a means to import and export a huge number of file types, easy export options, the ability to easily share, drag and drop file management once in the system, just to name a few. And in a good online DAM system, these need to be as fast and convenient as if using a local file manager.

Team Setup

Moving up in complexity is all the functionality needed to management a team of users within the DAM system. Here, user management is likely the most important. But also there's requirements such as activity logging to understand what everyone is doing within the system, especially actions that affect the collection such as edit and delete. A keyword dictionary can be extremely important for some organizations so which keywords can be added may be controlled. And of course, who can do what to which areas of the collection is paramount to maintaining a stable digital asset management system. This is where user permissions come into play, where users and sets of users (roles) are assigned certain abilities to relevant areas of the asset collection.

Advanced Digital Asset Management

Finally, there is what are often the most complex areas of a DAM system: huge items such as workflow management, versioning, and collaboration tools such as annotations and comments to make the system feel like a common tool to internal and external stakeholders; all while staying secure with everyone seeing only what they should be seeing.


A digital asset management system isn't a bundle of random features. There are layers to its functionality. The infographic below demonstrates these.  DBGallery was designed for and excels at each layer, supporting each of the items mentioned in the infographic.