The word cloud has to be the most abused term in the history of technology buzzwords. The concept of a computing cloud varies depending on who you ask, typically I define it as a number of general purpose servers that can perform a range of tasks. Traditionally you might have had separate sets of servers doing mail, servers doing web, servers doing calendaring. With a cloud you’d have computers that did all of those tasks thanks to virtualization, partitioning or clever job/configuration management that moved work around as needed. Where does the line between cluster and cloud exist? I’d say a cluster is generally single purpose and a cloud is never in the next room, it’s remote.
Cloud hosting sprung up. Typically it meant that your website wasn’t hosted on a single machine or even a pair of machines, it was spread across many machines. Historically we’d have probably called this cluster hosting but the term worked fine. Then your data was in the cloud. Cloud backup. Cloud storage. Historically we would have called this remote storage, remote backup, maybe even remote cluster hosting but hey it works. Using remote web-based mail client instead of local mail application on your PC? You’re using a cloud app. It’s a cooler word I guess and marketing loves cool words. I’m down with the cloud. I do love Amazon Web Services after all.
Along comes Dear Adobe who have launched the Creative Cloud. (I’ll stop the bold italics now, I promise). The Creative Cloud is a new licensing scheme for Adobe Creative Suite. Instead of spending $2200 on Adobe Creative Suite Master Collection you can now pay $50/month. I think the name is awful given that there is an actual push towards remotely hosted applications like Office 365 and Google Docs. These are ‘Cloud’ apps by some definition, they live in someones cloud. The Creative Cloud is really just a licensing / DRM scheme. Unfortunately Adobe no longer plans to sell Creative Suite, it will be a rental only. If you were the kind of customer who bought a new version of CS Master Collection very 2 years then the $1200 will be a lot better than $2200. Unfortunately many (most?) customers do not buy every version, and even fewer likely buy the entire Master Collection. If you are interested in just Photoshop or Illustrator, Adobe will rent them to you at $20/mo each. Amazon is currently selling the latest and greatest Photoshop CS6 for $637 (Mac, PC is slightly cheaper), boxed with media and documentation.
At $637, all you have to do is keep Photoshop for more than 31 months before owning it has paid off. It may seem like a long time but the reality is most Photoshop users I know (who aren’t just using pirated versions) do indeed keep their software for 3 years or more. In fact CS5 which is just the previous version, was released over 3 years ago. Heck CS4 from 5 years ago is still plenty good and I know plenty of folks still using CS3. Photographers treat their software like their gear: you don’t need to upgrade every time a new version comes out. If it delivers the results you want, why spend more money? Anyone who bought CS5 within 6 months of its release still using it today would be getting a bad deal under the Creative Cloud. In fact the Creative Cloud seems to encourage piracy as it defeats the notion that you actually own anything. (Owning Photoshop was always a point of pride for me)
Adobe promises to support the last boxed retail CS6 software for the next version of MacOS and Windows (OSX 10.9 and Windows 9? I assume they don’t mean 8.1 but you never know…) so you can always snatch up a copy of CS6 and use it until Adobe comes to their senses or a competitive product comes around. And hey each Creative Cloud license includes 20GB of cloud* storage because studios really want to upload potentially license/NDA encumbered client work to the public cloud and personal users really want to remotely save giant intermediary images over their slow home broadband. Or they could always use the Windows SkyDrive, Google Drive, Apple iDrive, DropBox or 1TB free storage from Flickr.
Ugh, that’s three negative blog posts in a row, and I’m actually in a good mood today. Next one will be positive, I promise!
(Header photo was from Burlington’s waterfront on a day when a storm was rolling in)