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Adobe's Create Cloud suite suffered a massive outage last week, raising questions about how long the company can continue to offer non-cloud software on a cloud consumption basis

Adobe’s Create Cloud suite suffered a massive outage last week, raising questions about how long the company can continue to offer non-cloud software on a cloud consumption basis

Millions of Adobe’s Creative Cloud users were unable to access their services late last week because of a malfunction with the database that stores Adobe Live account logins. The issue may highlight the growing crisis Adobe faces with its “cloud” software.

Last Thursday a massive outage inhibited access to Adobe creative suite software linked up to the company’s Adobe Live DRM platform. As a result of the outage millions of users were unable to login to applications like Photoshop and Illustrator.

According to a post from the Adobe customer care team the systems failure happened during a database maintenance activity.

“First, and most importantly, we want to apologize for this outage because we know how critical our services are to you and how disruptive it’s been to those of you who felt the impact,” the company said.

“We understand that the time it took to restore service has been frustrating, but we wanted to be as thorough as possible. We have identified the root cause of this failure and are putting standards in place to prevent this from happening again.”

In an updated post the company stressed that the failure was not security related, seemingly in a bid to ease concerns of a massive breach similar to the one the company’s Adobe Live systems suffered last October.

To its credit, Adobe did tell the press that it would assess compensation for affected users on a case-by-case basis; some were affected for up to four hours. And, it did provide a workaround. Affected users were told to disconnect from the internet, quit and re-open affected applications; in the absence of an internet connection the applications default to operating for 30-days from the last time a user logs in.

But in an odd twist, the solution seems to illuminate an issue here. Adobe’s creative cloud isn’t a cloud-based application as its name might suggest, but a form of digital rights management (a persistent authenticator) built into the company’s latest client-side software to prevent pirating and generate sticky revenue for the company.

The integrated cloud storage offered with the solution – 20GB for individuals and 100GB for teams – is certainly a step towards a true cloud-based model. But the sheer size of the average multimedia file created with its software beckons one to ask whether this is really a compelling offering. By contrast, Microsoft offers 1TB of cloud storage for enterprise users of Office 365 – to use as a standalone service, and to underpin its productivity software, all of which accessible through a simple browser. It’s also worth pointing out that Word and Power Point files tend to take up far less space than those created using Adobe’s software.

Of course a big difference here, beyond the fact that these companies tend to play in different enterprise segments, is that Microsoft openly admits its challenger status in the cloud game, having encountered stiff competition from younger and more nimble software and web companies over the past half decade; Abode on the other hand has a near monopoly on the market that it serves.

If anything can be gleaned and applied here from the re-birth of Microsoft, it’s that stiff competition can compel a company to be more open, more flexible (which includes offering on-premise and cloud-based versions of software, each with distinct market propositions), and more in tune with the needs of its customers.

GPU virtualisation is in the offing but the technology isn’t quite there yet, so offering a fully cloud-based version of its creative suite software may have to wait (though the company has said it’s working on it). But when combined with its monopolistic position it increasingly appears as though Adobe is, for the time being, content having its cake and eating it too, offering non-cloud software on a cloud consumption model basis while offering customers few of the benefits of cloud and exposing them to all of the drawbacks (security breaches, unplanned outages). The company has even elicited petitions from customers asking the company’s leadership to stop forcing users to pay cloud subscriptions for what is effectively non-cloud software.

The sense this author gets is that it’s time for Adobe to bifurcate its offerings and offer cloud-based and traditional desktop versions of its software, and thus split out the benefits and risks associated with each consumption model, or, make Creative Cloud more compelling. As the cloud becomes more capable of doing the heavy lifting computationally speaking, we’re likely to see more of the latter. But with virtually no competition in this space there are few reasons for Adobe to strive to improve.

  • Gruntbuggle May 21, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    It has nothing to do with piracy, the CC like every other application in the world was hacked days after release, it’s all about Adobe forcing users to buy upgrades they don’t need or want. I and many other former Adobe fans are refusing to be so victimized, I have CS6 and will never “subscribe” to tools that I need to do my work.

    Not only because of failures like the one described in this article but because if I end my subscription what have I got to show for all the money paid to Adobe? It’s a scam and a disgusting one and the minute viable alternatives to Adobe products come on the market I will embrace them.

  • Rich Rubasch May 21, 2014 at 4:33 pm

    Agreed…I will not subscribe to software I don’t use. We have the Production Premium CS6 suite and primarily use Photoshop, AE and Illustrator. There is no model for those apps with CC except individual licenses. Once the introductory rate is over Adobe can charge whatever they want and they’ve got us because by that time we will have legacy projects that rely on the software. Besides our industry requires timely revisions and the outage would have caused outrage!

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