Northwestern Switzerland Academy of Music Leaves Canto Cumulus DAM for EnterMedia

 

Introduction

Sometimes a solution that has worked for years will no longer serve the needs of the users or meet the ongoing budget requirements of an organization. In these situations, it may be necessary to pursue new products or service providers. In late 2014, The Academy of Music within The University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Switzerland found themselves in precisely this position.

FHNW is a cluster of different universities known as the University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Northwestern Switzerland. The FHNW Academy of Music is one of these schools (herein “The Academy”). Although many of these universities had used their existing DAM software for years, the Academy sought a smoother, more modern solution for their ongoing creative needs. The chosen solution would require transition services for all users, data and media currently stored in the Canto Cumulus digital asset management system. The software would need to demonstrate a more intuitive user interface, workflow capabilities and flexible platform for future changes. After a successful migration, The Academy collaborated with EnterMedia on this case study as part of a larger effort to ease the process of changing DAM software and service providers.

Background

Moving from one system to another is always an interesting experience from the DAM user’s perspective. The specific arrangement of features, the visual consistency of a UI and the identification with a brand name can be difficult to let go. Yet, in a modern world, where technology is changing and expanding at a rapid rate, it is common to explore the possibilities of more than just one system.

FNHW purchased Cumulus from Canto many years prior to The Academy’s introduction to EnterMedia Software. Cumulus was in use by multiple departments of the University, but The Academy sought a smoother, more modern solution for their creative needs. Certain technical requirements and support needs were not being satisfied. Due to this, and other challenges with the Canto Cumulus UI and support structure, The Academy decided to make the switch from their subscription-based solution to EnterMedia’s EMShare.

Unbeknownst to FHNW, EnterMedia was originally developed as an alternative to Cumulus. Although both solutions claim the open source title; EnterMedia offers more flexibility, a closer connection with support and consulting personnel, and a more economical pricing model. EnterMedia also has experience in moving all essential components from an old environment to the new one.

“We have replaced several Canto Cumulus systems with EnterMedia for a lower overall cost. With improved performance and a more flexible open source platform, it’s a no-brainer to dump Cumulus and import your catalogs to EnterMedia.”

– Christopher Burkey, Lead Developer/CEO of EnterMedia

Challenges with Canto Cumulus and Selecting a Replacement

The Academy faced several specific challenges with Canto Cumulus. First, media support on the platform was not efficient, nor cost-effective due to subscription-based extensions. Second, their version of the client software was not platform independent. Third, the video/media conversions occur on the Canto Cumulus cloud and The Academy needed the media’s data on their own servers, due to the common challenge of copyright issues. Restrictive data limitations, cost efficiency and user friendliness were some of the pain points.

“In our personal opinion, Canto Cumulus has a catastrophic look-and-feel, resembling dinosaur software from the 80’s.”

– Holger Stenschke – Research Coordination, The University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Switzerland.

Entermedia UI

EnterMedia’s out of the box UI

The Academy considered three other DAM options: Typo3, Cantemo and Resourcespace. Each had their pros and cons, but video handling, pricing, closed-source code and additional programming requirements all weighed heavily into the final decision. The ideal solution needed to balance cost efficiency, powerful feature sets and a support team who would live up to their promises.

“Our local Canto Cumulus reseller and support was very unreliable and we were not able to meet our requirements in time.”

– Holger Stenschke – Research Coordination, The University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Switzerland.

The transition from Canto Cumulus would need to take place quickly, to avoid any production down time between the use of the two systems. All data and assets would need to transfer, convert and populate the appropriate areas. The administrators required specific, timely training and support sessions to properly manage and maintain all of their assets in their new media database.

“The technical challenges of moving from one DAM to another were navigated through a series of custom scripts, exporting / importing tasks, and data massaging. Transition is always a custom process, but experience makes a big difference in terms of timeline, budget and project communication.”

– Ian Miller, Senior Architect, NetEvolved/ EnterMedia, Inc.

The Solution

The primary requirements were a platform independent client, flexible media support (such as unlimited file conversions, custom transcoding profiles, e.g. ffmpeg/ AVConv), local storage, a simple and customizable UI, Dublin core metadata support and configurable user permissions. EnterMedia’s EMShare was able to meet all of these requirements, and more, out of the box. With straightforward support agreements and pricing, experience with migrating other clients from Canto Cumulus, solid documentation and a modern GUI in the browser-based client, EnterMedia was awarded the contract.

“Our most important requirement was flawless media handling and playback. EnterMedia offers this. No software add-on is necessary. Everything is included. They had fair pricing and offered great support options with excellent documentation. EM Software is basically ready-to-go.”

– Holger Stenschke – Research Coordination, The University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Switzerland.

Conclusion

The Academy confirms that they are “indeed very happy with the end result…all our requirements were met”. Even in the midst of a major movement to the cloud, some organizations still require a local media server. The adoption of an open-source, easily operated DAM solution can improve the experience of those managing and interacting with the media. There is more to a solution than a big name or a legacy product. Fair pricing, detailed documentation and clear, flexible support options are essential considerations when choosing a DAM vendor..

“The EM platform proved itself to be a reliable tool in our daily work.”

– Holger Stenschke – Research Coordination, The University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Switzerland.