Tim's Weblog
Tim Strehle’s links and thoughts on Web apps, software development and Digital Asset Management, since 2002.

Nuxeo’s Eric Barroca on DAM innovation and interoperability

Better interoperability between Digital Asset Management and adjacent systems is one of my favorite topics (see my post on RDF and schema.org for DAM interoperability). I believe that this requires DAM vendors to work on standards or common “best practices” together. That’s why I love talking interoperability with DAM vendor people (and while we’re at it, why not talk about DAM in general?).

Note that I’m not affiliated with any DAM vendor except for my employer, Digital Collections – and I’m only talking for myself on this Web site, not representing my employer.

Eric Barroca is CEO at (open source) ECM and DAM vendor Nuxeo.

Tim: Would you mind telling us a little bit about you and your journey to becoming CEO of Nuxeo?

Eric: I started at Nuxeo in 2001 as VP of Operations. Since then, I’ve worn several hats until, in 2008, I was appointed CEO of today’s international company. I played a key role in the development of the Nuxeo Platform, as a digital asset platform.

Your product is called the “Nuxeo Platform”. Is it mostly targeted at large enterprise setups with a focus on custom development?

The Nuxeo platform is designed to be both highly scalable and cost effective, so it can be deployed by large enterprises as well as smaller departments and organizations. However, our platform is primarily targeted at large enterprises that need to manage large amounts of data or very complex assets.

Most of our customers chose Nuxeo because it can scale to meet the needs of today’s most demanding environments while providing an incredibly low total cost of ownership (TCO). One of the Nuxeo Platform strengths lies in its ability to rapidly build custom apps at the enterprise level: out of the box connectors to systems in place in the organization, developer tools to help customization & deployment… Also, our powerful REST API is a great way to build applications and integrate with the platform.

Our platform has been designed to be easily integrated in existing environments. We want to help our users to maximize the technologies they have in place, instead of replacing everything.

NoSQL, Web Components, cloud and APIs – Nuxeo technology seems to be pretty “bleeding edge”. Would you say that innovation is a major part of the Nuxeo “DNA”?

Totally. Nuxeo’s team is very fond of technology and innovation is at the heart of what we do. We’re always looking for newer, more performant tools that will bring new capabilities to our products. However, we prefer to think of our technology as more “leading edge” than “bleeding edge.” When you work with some of the world’s foremost companies, innovation cannot come at the expense of things like quality, performance and availability.

You tested the Nuxeo Platform with more than a billion documents. How large are the DAM systems you already rolled out to customers, can you share some numbers?

We’re currently working with a post-production company with 10Pb (!!) of archive video. This is a great example of how highly performant the platform can be. By the way, all of our benchmarks are also publicly available on benchmarks.nuxeo.com.

And, as you will see from our benchmarks, Nuxeo provides native integration with the leading NoSQL database, MongoDB, as a content and data storage back end. Using the Nuxeo Platform with MongoDB provides our customers the opportunity to build digital asset management applications with big data tools and processes capable of dealing with enormous data volumes at unmatched speeds.

This integration offers the best of digital asset management (versioning, access control, workflow, querying, metadata management, business logic, sharing, auditing, file conversion, etc.) with scalable, highly available storage to build enterprise content-centric applications. Organizations with large content store requirements leverage MongoDB to access features such as replication, zero downtime and multi-master writes. It also works well alongside Elasticsearch for advanced queries.

In your article Welcome to the Age of Deep Content, you’ve made the point that while we’ve become pretty good at sharing traditional files, digital business transformation requires very rich and structured content. What’s your approach towards sharing that structured content and metadata between systems?

This is one of the key tenets of the Nuxeo Platform. Our vision is that a successful digital asset platform should not be a stand-alone solution. Instead, it should be embedded into your existing IT stack, so that you can experience a multiplier effect. Nuxeo’s architecture allows you to maximize productivity by enabling users to work with and collaborate on content and digital assets regardless of where they are stored (e.g. Adobe, Salesforce, Box, Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive, etc.). We provide a number of ready-made Nuxeo connectors to instantly integrate existing asset stores.

A modern content management platform must keep pace by allowing for equally fast changes to its data model to fulfill new informational needs. In legacy systems, document types, metadata, properties and attributes must be defined in advance (“schema on write”) prior to adding any content to the repository. Changing or removing an existing attribute can cause the entire repository to be re-indexed from scratch and, even worse, cause existing end user applications to stop working. The Nuxeo Platform allows to build future-proof applications using a schema-flexible content model that can be faceted to easily adapt and change to meet new business requirements.

Fundamentally, we believe that existing systems shouldn’t be replaced, rather they should be integrated into a global digital asset platform that can both scale with the needs of your organization and enrich your assets so that they provide real value to your business.

The Nuxeo Platform supports CMIS. Which other (possibly DAM-specific) data exchange standards are supported? Are you looking into Linked Data standards as well?

As we’ve discussed above, digital asset platforms must be adaptable to today’s very demanding business environments and must be able to connect with other asset sources in the enterprise. Given this, Nuxeo has long been a proponent of open standards and was a member of the Technical Committee for the development of both the CMIS 1.0 and 1.1 standards.

More recently, we are again participating as a Technical Committee member in the development of a CMIS4DAM standard, which we believe will bring great value to our DAM customers.

Also the XMP standard is still widely spread and used in the industry. Our customers use it to edit portable metadata on the document itself. Those metadata are then extracted by our server and synchronised.

Are you already involved in developing or advancing DAM interoperability standards, or would you be open to?

Yes, Nuxeo is an active member of the OASIS Technical Committee that is developing the CMIS4DAM standard.

What’s your outlook for DAM innovations and the DAM market in 2017?

The first wave of digital asset solutions drove huge efficiency gains by enabling companies to digitize their assets and processes. And, now that their assets and processes are increasingly digital, companies are able to find new revenue streams and develop new products and services for their customers. Media companies are creating more assets and distributing them across more channels than ever before. Similarly, in other industries, traditional businesses are beginning to look and act more and more like media companies. Quite simply, the digital asset is the currency of the digital era.

As a result, the DAM market is rapidly evolving. Large, legacy vendors provide feature-rich products built on legacy foundations that don't scale, aren’t Cloud-friendly and don’t integrate easily into customers’ existing ecosystems. Smaller, niche vendors serve up point solutions that can address departmental problems, but don't scale and aren't designed to be extensible to the needs of the modern enterprise.

Today, most large enterprises have a massive and rapidly growing number of digital assets and they need rich information about these assets in order to effectively find and use them, including descriptors, rights, permissions, asset relationships, etc. But that information is often scattered across numerous legacy systems or buried in manual processes, making these assets effectively unusable. As a result, we believe there is a huge opportunity for market consolidation and for companies like ours to provide a platform that will scale to the needs of the enterprise, won’t make assets unfindable or unusable, and won’t require customers to “rip and replace” existing systems and asset stores.

The future of DAM is to be able to unlock the full value of enterprise digital assets, by embedding business processes, along with digital assets, in the cloud, addressing it with APIs to easily connect into a fast evolving ecosystem of services and putting analytics and predictions on top.

Thanks to Eric Barroca and the team at Nuxeo for taking the time! By the way, I’m collecting articles about Nuxeo on Planet DAM.