How Adobe Creative Cloud will impact budgets

Adobe is replacing its traditional Creative Suite perpetual licensing model with a cloud-based subscription model. Is it cost-effective?

Adobe is replacing its traditional Creative Suite perpetual licensing model with a cloud-based subscription model.

Version 6 of Creative Suite, which included perennially popular titles such as Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and Dreamweaver, will be replaced with a single subscription with access to over 19 tools. The so-called Creative Cloud also includes access to Adobe software downloads, storage and project management tools.

In terms of cloud-based software, Adobe is really only offering cloud-based activation. Users still have to download the software onto their device in the usual manner. They can, however, collaborate and share files with team members or across devices

For small creative companies or departments that have standardised on Adobe tools, Creative Cloud  may be a good way to access the full breadth of Adobe products. However, it is costly and at least 22,000 people have signed a petition against the potential price hike that signing up to Creative Cloud entails.

“No offence,  but this feels like the biggest money grab in the history of software,” Stobist, a photography blogger, tweeted.

Unresolved Adobe licensing issues

The following issues will need to be clarified for enterprise users:

  1. Companies wishing to deploy Creative Cloud will need to establish whether the cloud activation mechanism is compatible with their internal software packaging and deployment tools. Bespoke deployments or Adobe’s in-house deployment tools might be an expensive headache.
  2. Software managers will need to identify which installations are parts of Creative Cloud and which are installed traditionally. In the meantime expect software audits from Adobe.
  3. Large customers are unlikely to need every single Adobe product bundled in this subscription. At this time there appear to be no tactical options. The price of two or more individual items exceeds the price of the suite subscription.

For companies who only use Adobe for the odd tactical product or large enterprises with many users the benefits may be difficult to justify.

Recent research with ITAM Review readers suggests Adobe is held in very low esteem with 72% of IT asset managers realising no value in the Adobe vendor relationship.

Some people feel this hostile relationship can only deepen if Adobe is set on a course of aggressive bundling and oversupply of its software, which is already deemed expensive.

One user in a LinkedIn discussion noted: “Our enterprise agreement will be honoured through the end date and any updates we are entitled to will be likewise applied as per those agreements. However, if we want to stay current with the latest and greatest the Creative Suites have to offer we will need to consider the Creative Cloud. “

Adobe's compliance audits will still remain, according to Steve O’Halloran of AssetLabs: “It's my opinion that a mixed subscription/perpetual licence will create a fragmentation of Adobe deployment”

He added: “This choice of a licence or subscription will drive [IT departments to improve their] understanding of user profiles in order to ensure that a long-term subscription is warranted, or whether the users can use what they have in order to get their job done.”

Clearly, companies with Adobe Cumulative Licence or Enterprise Agreements will need to consider their use of Adobe in their businesses if they want to remain on the latest version. But Adobe is not alone in changing its licensing. IT asset managers will need to get used to a shift away from traditional software licensing.

Peter Prestele, general manager for Flexera Software, said Adobe's change in licensing is part of a broader trend for software publishers. 

“Adobe’s recent announcement that its Creative Suite will no longer be available under a perpetual licence for the version beyond Creative Suite 6 appears to have divided the customer base – going from outrage to ambivalence to welcoming the development. However, this is clear evidence that software producers are re-visiting their business models in order to succeed in the market,” he said.

Further details of the Adobe licensing changes can be found here.

Martin Thompson is the founder of the Campaign for Clear Licensing.

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