The Creative Cloud and How it Could Affect Your Business

The new buzz is about virtual servers and word on the street is that all servers will be virtual by 2016. Seems computer programs are going virtual too.

Adobe issued press a few days ago stating that they are not going to make or sell any more boxed software after CS6. They are going to serve it virtually – on the Creative Cloud – at $50 per month. It is a brilliant move for Adobe in many respects, but not for small businesses and possibly education at first glance.

Yes you can try different software for a flat fee.

Yes there will be continual updates. But will there be program compatibility issues? Bandwidth issues? Legacy file issues?

And will Adobe raise prices and make it unaffordable? They say they won’t but how can they guarantee that…?

And then there are those pesky monthly payments. And annoying upgrades that don’t always work with older files. Yes the programs will still run off your hard drive, but access to the program will be controlled by Adobe.

Now what about those agencies and small businesses who purchased let’s say CS5 or CS4 and have older computers which they have to keep operational for several years… will they be forced to upgrade their computers in order to run the software?

Yes this new way of serving software will be better for Adobe and it will minimize copyright violations and theft, so it should, in theory up their ROI, but what about your own ROI…?

Ok, so Adobe says you won’t have to upgrade… you can use the older version up to a year after the new one comes out – but hmmm… I have CS5.5 on my PowerPC Mac that I still use… so with Creative Cloud, that option would be gone and CS6 won’t run on it. So I guess I would have to absorb a loss on that investment… (you can see where my head is)

And what happens when Adobe’s servers need maintenance and your program crashes in the middle of a rush job and you cannot get your program up and running…?  It could happen, couldn’t it…?

Or your credit card, bank or Adobe account gets screwed up and you lose access to your programs…?

Or there is a hacker onslaught that compromises the system or accesses your account…?

Or that one client doesn’t pay on time and you are late with your payment and Adobe cuts you off and you can’t finish another client’s job…? (Cashflow in smaller businesses can be an issue)

Or your internet connection goes down…?

Or it takes too much bandwidth to download and your Internet connection slows to a crawl…?

Or you decide to take a month’s vacation and your computer is off and can’t connect as required every couple of weeks to Adobe’s servers…?

And what do you do if you are a Printer…? Subscribe to several versions of software…?

And if you are an educational institution, do you require each student to maintain an individual account…? Or will it better to use the Adobe Education Enterprise Agreement (EEA) program, where access is only through computers owned by the institution…?

And how can college students do work off campus and what if your institution does not have enough computers on campus for all the students…? How much more money will students and colleges have to fork out to make this work…? And each faculty member will have to get their own subscription for their own laptop so they can grade/correct work and plan lessons at home…!  Is this cost-effective for you…?

So what does all this mean to you?

Most of us have limited knowledge of the scope of this service or the long-term effects of business operations using Cloud-based technology.

For those of us who depend on software like CS6 to make money on a regular basis this switch can be somewhat scary… It may open up opportunities for Apple and other software and computer developers and manufacturers.

Maybe someone will develop an Open Source Design Programs that rival Adobe’s offerings and will take over market share.

Think about it. With this new delivery system and tracking of your registration through the Internet, will security be compromised? And what other information can be collected about you? And what will be done with that information?

And with Adobe offering a file viewing system so you can share your files, how does one handle proprietary information? What exposure will private information, new product materials and other sensitive materials have?

Surely at first glance the Creative Cloud seems wonderful, but upon further analysis, I remain skeptical. I think I will let others test the waters for me before I jump. What about you…?

-Geri Konstantin