Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Asset Aging

Data storage is not limitless. If you’ve read the previous article, you’ll know that expanding any storage has a ripple effect that requires increased redundancy, time to make backups, and increased off-site storage.

Ideally, you’ll want to archive old, rarely used assets to tape or disc, and delete them off your server. You could make copies of every asset, and keep them with every project, then archive old projects, but depending on the asset, this practice could wildly bloat your space consumption.

Identifying old assets by creation or modification date is easy, but how do you know which ones you frequently use? How do you sift through terabytes of data trying to find the treasures?

The short answer is databases.

At a previous job, we tracked all our digital assets through our document management system. When a user checked out a document they manually entered all the image IDs into the document management system. Our automation team scripted Adobe’s inDesign to place the image on the page and made a record in the database as to the document it was in and when it was used. When it came time to purge the server, another script would query the database, and based on the results would move old files to a special server partition that would be backed up to tape.

Even more important than asset archiving, is managing asset license expiration.

Example : You purchased several images from a stock photo library, but you’re only allowed to use them for a year. Violating the terms could cost the company big fines, or even a law suit.

Who manages the licenses? How do you prevent users from re-using old images?

The answer is the same, databases, but with the added complexity of making sure that old images are not restored from tape after the rights have expired. This boils down to making sure the IT department is well aware of the digital rights management issue, and to check with the license manager before restoring any assets from archive.

This aspect of asset management is something that is rarely discussed within the department, and can easily be forgotten after enough turn over within the group. How do you make sure everyone stays abreast of these issues? Stay tuned next time for, “The Value of the Department Wiki.”