SDL adds Media Asset Management via acquisition of Calamares

Delft, a town in the province of South Holland, is not only famous for its signature lieflijk blue-and-white delftware -- like those miniature KLM houses that are given out on flights -- but also for its software too. One Delft-based company is moving out of the newfound cradle of Dutch software to Amsterdam, as video management vendor Calamares has been acquired by SDL to be rebranded as SDL Media Manager.

Here’s a bit of a background to this acquisition. SDL Tridion Web CMS has long lacked some basic digital asset handling features. Yes, you can upload binaries -- images, videos, audios, etc. -- into the so-called “multimedia components,” but this is about it. (We’ve talked before about DAM-lite vs. true DAM functionalities.) Any other sophisticated features like image editing, video transcoding and metadata ingestion are out of the question.

While Tridion tried to make some strides to integrate with ADAM  – a Belgian DAM software vendor – they were few and far in between, not to mention hardly productized. So this is where Calamares – a very-few-people Delft shop comes in. Calamares has also done some ADAM integrations, as Calamares lacks many core DAM features, because they mostly focus on video storage and distribution. And this is very important: while Calamares positions itself as a Software-as-a-Service MAM (Media Asset Management) vendor, its true strength lies in Video Asset Management (VAM). VAM is only a subset of MAM as a whole.

Ektron, Sitecore, and Hippo are some of the CMSs being reported (by Calamares) as having connectors to the Calamares VAM system as well. Where Calamares fits in the SDL Tridion picture is MAM. The build vs. buy argument is one good reason (we've seen SDL Tridion pitch custom-built DAM-like feature components to prospective customers). However, Calamares is mainly video management, and people still like to be able to crop and resize their images while in the CMS. The question is which functions will be integrated better than others.

It certainly doesn’t make much sense to now consider SDL Tridion a DAM or VAM vendor. Video streaming, rights management, and video distribution features of Calamares will hardly make SDL Tridion a plausible candidate for media and publishing companies that tend to go for highly customized CMS approaches. On the other hand, Calamares shouldn’t be considered a standalone VAM or MAM vendor any longer either.

The question here is: how much are you willing to pay for DAM-like features if you need them? How well will the integration transpire? (I’ve seen too many examples with many Web CMS vendors that prove it doesn’t always go well.) You’d think you’ll be able to manage all assets from one central repository? There are some technical limitations to Calamares as it stands now. With the Brightcoves of this world as an alternative, it remains to be seen what value Calamares will bring to you, the current and future SDL Tridion Web CMS customers.

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