Adobe: A Cloudy Issue?
How do you feel about Adobe's move to the cloud?
So far, I have interviewed a semi-random group of Adobe Creative Suite users who both have and have not joined the Creative Cloud. Emotions run surprisingly high, and I'm getting about six "unhappys" to four "I like it"s.
I've been breaking down complaints by category. By far the biggest complaints have to do with the cost/benefit breakdown and online security. One VFX supervisor said to me, "It's only a matter of time before they get hacked, and there goes our IP." This was three days before Adobe actually did get hacked. But, to be fair, no user IP was compromised and the credit card numbers accessed were allegedly encrypted. So, no big deal. Or is it? Clearly, the hacker jackass club has its sights on Adobe, and while these lowlifes may act like idiot criminals, they can be scary smart. You have to wonder what they will do next. On the other hand, Adobe is throwing a lot of smart money at the problem and has hired an outside firm to beef up their security.
But I digress. I was able to get some knowledgeable real people to go on record with their feelings about the whole CC move. I'm going to share some of them with you. To this end I talked with some VFX houses and I have interviewed the head honcho at a new-concept, cloud-based VFX studio. That was interesting. Some like the cloud, others do not. But there is little argument that it is a trend, with The Foundry, Autodesk and Side Effects also heading in that direction.
It's an expensive and somewhat risky move for publishers because the payout is stretched and the infrastructure investment is substantial, both physically and security systems wise.
My personal opinion is that the cloud is here to stay and that in five years ownership of key software in our industry will have gone the way of the CD. It could be that, in the long run, it's a good idea.
This is part one of three. In part two I'll bring you quotes from sophisticated users in the industry who have lots of questions and concerns. In part three, Adobe has agreed to have Bill Roberts, who is director of video product management at Adobe Systems, join the conversation. He's a good guy who came over from Avid. He knows his stuff. He will address some of our concerns from Adobe's perspective. I've asked them for plain talk and no carefully prepared press release type mumbo jumbo. I think we all need some honest interaction.
We need to intelligently evaluate this trend towards cloud-based software. I selected Adobe for several reasons. For one, I believe a large number of casual users are involved. I define casual users as people who do not primarily make their living from Adobe products, but seek to use them for personal projects or occasional business such as tweaking their business website or designing Christmas cards or even as a regular tool for their social media posts. Casual users tend to buy software, learn the parts they use, and not worry about updates or all the fancy gewgaws power users may employ.
In fact, many I spoke with hate changes, even if they are labeled "updates." The software works and they own it and that's the end of it. Some disable the updates. Many don't join Adobe online. They just go to Vimeo and YouTube for free tutorials. As one casual user said to me: "That way, Adobe doesn't have their hooks into me." He may have a point.
Professional users aren't so worried about the monthly cost, but they are concerned about security and IP protection. I've been told that some have interpreted the small print in the Adobe Creative Cloud Agreement as giving Adobe rights and access to your IP. Many users, including me, never read that stuff. It's all legalese that I wouldn't understand anyway. But, as I understand it, that's the story that's going around the Visual Effects Society. I'll ask Bill to address this concern in the third installment.
Another potential problem is that if you store your works in progress in the Creative Cloud, Adobe could have leverage over you that we may not have yet imagined. If your subscription runs out, do you lose all your work until you pay up? They are nice people, of course. But we need to know these things.
The security issue is a biggie. Lots of people in this industry do not trust the cloud, apparently with good reason. Also there are many questions about Adobe's license plans, which may not be adequate for many different large-scale users. I'll bring these issues up as well. Hell, we may need four installments the way this is going. I keep getting more and more email from professionals I've contacted for their opinions.
The thing is…I believe that the Cloud is definitely here to stay. It is a trend. We better understand it and use it effectively. To do that, we need to know a lot more. So let's start with our questions, and then give Adobe a chance to plain-talk with us about our concerns. We can also make suggestions to them to assuage our concerns and better meet our needs.
So as I've said, I've talked with dozens of people in the industry, and in my next blog I'm going to tell you who they are and what they had to say. In the meanwhile, we're interested in your two cents on this issue. So don't be shy—chime in below in the comments. I'll ask Adobe to keep an eye on those too. I'm trying to avoid so many anonymous posts. So if you can, use your name or at least your title when you post. Most of the really wacky or mean posts are from Anon. Let's keep the posts as civil as possible people. We are pros, let's act like it.
Also, since I mentioned other publishers going towards the cloud, you can mention them too, if you like. So, how does this trend impact you personally, and what suggestions do you have?