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Images Served to Order

(November 2003) posted on Tue Nov 18, 2003

A new kind of asset manager delivers the right image at the right time

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By Jake Widman

"It's very expensive to repurpose an image for every output," says Tim Bigoness of Equilibrium Technologies, makers of the widely used image conversion software Debabelizer. "There's a cost associated any time you touch an image and repurpose."

Not having to repurpose an image is the idea behind an up-and-coming class of products called image servers. Doug Mack's company makes the Infinite Imaging Server and describes the product's value proposition this way: "A company can have a single master image, and any user can transform that image for a business purpose." The version of an image required for a specific purpose is created when it's needed, according to the rules and stipulations controlling the server. And it's created automatically by the server software, rather than by a user copying the master image to a local machine and processing it there. The new version can be put back onto the server or fed into a DAM system if that makes sense; or it can be generated anew each time it's needed.

Bigoness, whose company sells the MediaRich image server, points out that "The original always remains intact, but you don't have to manage all the derivative assets." The image server can deliver an EPS for print purposes, a JPEG for the Web, and even a tiny JPEG for delivery to PDAs on an as-needed basis. Working this way "reduces the time and cost it takes to move an image around a business," Bigoness continues. "DAM and content-management systems have very good workflows and repositories. We only focus on the repurposing aspect."

Hands off

The advantages of image servers extend beyond simply saving server space. Obviously, any operation can choose a single high-resolution master copy of an image on the server and produce new versions with image processing software whenever they're needed. It's exactly that real-time processing that's expensive, though; image servers automate the process.