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Solving the DAM Problem

While DAM is at its heart, the Onstream Digital Media Services Platform (as the name suggests) actually offers several digital media services, including Webcasting, Web conferencing, and content distribution. Onstream can provide archiving and retrieving, encoding, indexing, hosting, transcoding, and publishing.

With DMSP Onstream aims to provide content owners with "cradle-to-grave digital services," Castle says, but then quickly corrects himself, deciding that the term "end to end" sounds less morbid. But the point is the same—Onstream will take content owners as far as they want to go and as fast as they want to go, from baby steps to giant leaps. If the customers are video producers who just want to be able to collaborate with a few other producers, Onstream can help with that. If customers just want to distribute their content, Onstream can help with that. If they want to monetize their content, DMSP offers various ways to do that.

Indeed, one of Onstream DMSP's most attractive features may be its offer to help content owners monetize their assets and navigate the stormy seas of Digital Rights Management (DRM). "There are many different flavors of DRM. The market is pretty much a mess," Castle says. Consequently, rather than standardizing on a particular DRM, Onstream allows customers to pick their own DRM. Onstream will the make whatever deals need to be made with that chosen DRM provider. "We partner with all the major DRM companies," says Castle.

The DMSP's e-commerce capabilities allow for point-and-click online transactions and integrated credit card processing. It can use a company's merchant account to provide pay-per-view features, including unlimited and limited number of plays, time periods for viewing, geographical access, recurring billing, discount codes, and video "reprints" for syndication. Companies can, of course, also choose a subscription business model for monetizing live or on-demand streaming and downloading of their content.

Also attractive is Onstream's general pay-as-you-go scalability. The DMSP is set up as a subscription service with additional ala carte service options available. "Customers can turn on and off features as they apply to their businesses," says Castle. Prices run as low as $125 per month for a subscription for unlimited access to the platform (which includes the DAM software at its heart) and $1500 for a live video Webcast event (an a la carte option).

Onstream DAM users are charged for storage by gigabyte per month up to certain levels, after which the price increase is merely incremental, says Castle. Users don't have to outlay money for storage they may never need. They only pay for what they need. "Small shops can get onboard quickly and cheaply, and they can scale up as their business picks up," Castle says.

This scalability is particularly appreciated by Onstream's customers in production facilities and advertising agencies, who can use one account to house their own content and, when needed, can open additional accounts for their clients on a project-by-project basis. Because these sub-accounts are paid for on a monthly subscription basis, customers can use the services only when they are needed during the lifecycle of a project. Billing for these accounts can then be done either by the production house/agency directly or automatically through the DMSP.

In building its platform, Onstream Media has made many deals and partnerships and formed many alliances. Its DAM, for example, has been licensed from North Plains Systems. It got its video encoding and indexing software when it acquired a division of Virage. For "industrial-strength conferencing," Castle says, Onstream forged an OEM deal with Avaya.

In its promotional literature Onstream makes a big deal of its deal (strategic alliance) with Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), one of the country's leading IT security firms and a large provider to the government sector. "They helped us build out our data center and implement security and data assurance," Castle says. When it comes to security, being associated with SAIC "is like having the Good Housekeeping seal of approval," he adds.

For many companies the task of managing media assets in only going to get worse in coming years, says Castle. The Yankee Group projects that digital media will account for 39 percent of enterprises' total storage capacity next year (2006). More and more companies are recognizing that managing their digital media assets is a problem, says Castle. "And when you have a DAM problem, it's never just a small problem; it's a massive problem," he concludes.

Onstream Media's DMSP can take that problem off your hands —for a price, of course. But at least there's now an alternative to doing it all yourself.

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