Getting Locked Out of the Cloud

June 10, 2014 | Susan Bilder

I am in no conceivable way a designer, and admittedly don’t understand most of the features available in Adobe’s Creative Suite.  If asked to edit an image, I’d be more likely to load it up in GIMP than Photoshop, and would probably get it kicked back for a re-edit because someone with a better sense of aesthetics found the end result lacking.  With that disclaimer out of the way, I can empathize with those who rely on Creative Suite for a living.  Putting together a visually appealing product is exacting, time-consuming work even for the talented, and that work is made much easier with the right tools.  I have been assured that Creative Suite is usually the correct tool for whatever design project needs to be done.

Up until the release of Creative Suite 6, the software followed a traditional model:  pay for the software, install it, license it, and then use it locally.  The most recent release of Creative Suite has taken this model to the cloud with “Creative Cloud” – the software is still installed locally, but the licensing fee is paid on a monthly basis, with an internet connection required to validate the license at least once every 30 days.  An annual option is available as well, with a 99 day validation interval.  If the license is not validated in the allotted time, you’re locked out of your software.

In theory, this is an ideal model for Adobe.  Creative Suite is expensive, and monthly licensing fees can be more economical for users who only need the Suite for a short term project.  Also, by controlling the licensing, you can control access to the product rather than policing software installations to combat piracy.

For customers who rely on Creative Cloud, the Cloud model has not been as advantageous.  While having a Cloud based repository for projects can help with portability and collaboration, the overall cost for the software has increased, and customers must provide at least intermittent internet connection to validate the software license.  Complaints over cost, required internet connectivity, and various bugs notwithstanding, the model mostly worked, and designers continued to use Creative Suite in its Creative Cloud form.

However, on May 14th the Cloud model came to a grinding halt when routine database maintenance caused Adobe logins to be unavailable for 24 hours.  During the outage, the Twitter account for Adobe Customer Care advised customers to take their computer offline, access the software, and then go back online.  After the outage was resolved, customers who were still having problems were advised to sign out, reboot, and then reconnect.

Social media being what it is, there were many unverifiable but plausible tweets during the outage complaining about missed deadlines and resulting financial losses.  Creative Cloud is, after all, professionally designed software used by professionals with deadlines and reputations to maintain.  Tweets asking about compensation were told that none was available (as per the terms of service), but a later report by Reuters quoted Adobe as saying that compensation would be considered on a case by case basis -  with no details about exactly what that compensation might be, or how users might be asked to verify that they deserve compensation.

Cloud outages are not uncommon, and every user has a different definition of what they consider to be a “critical” application, which requires very careful consideration before being migrated to a Cloud.  Based on tweets on the AdobeCare Twitter feed and posts in the Adobe forums, many Creative Cloud customers would have preferred locally installed software to avoid this exact problem.  Adobe users who have been bitten by this will be justifiably reluctant in the future to opt for any form of Cloud based application.

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