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Cloud computing, is it really worth the cost?

With the outage of the Adobe Creative Cloud services recently that locked some subscribers out of using their software for more than a day, I thought that I would put down my views of cloud computing.

Adobe's Creative Cloud subscription begins by choosing your plan, which ultimately decides how much per month you will have to pay for your subscription. You then download your software and install it onto your computer. This is important to note, the software is installed on your computer. The software then periodically checks back to Adobe to ensure that your subscription is current. If it isn't, you will no longer have access to your software,(on your computer), or any of the files that you have created using the software. The recent outage that locked users out of their software demonstrates just how precarious this type of system is when something goes wrong at the supplier end, and the end result is that paid up members can't access the service that they are paying for. This is simply, not good enough.

Adobe isn't the only company that is employing this type of system, Microsoft has Office 365 and MYOB has a subscription service as well. All of these companies are pushing this system citing that the users always have the latest software and updates available. They state that the subscription costs the same per year or in some cases less than the perpetual license and this may be true if users want to upgrade their software every year. But most users I know are happy to purchase their software and continue to use it for several years, sometimes up to 10 years before upgrading. If these same people used the monthly rental system, they would have paid 10 times what they paid for their perpetual software, assuming the monthly rental subscriptions stay the same and don't go up with inflation.

Adobe, Microsoft and MYOB all maintain that users will be using the latest up to date software but this could actually have drawbacks rather than advantages. When Microsoft updated Office 2003 to 2007, they made so many changes to the software that even seasoned users of Office were struggling to find even basic functions that they had been using for years. To get back to the same level of experience with the new software, probably took about 3 to 4 months. Imagine if this scenario happens every year. You may have your entire workforce crippled for 3 months every year learning the new software. With the subscription based system, you don't have any choice whether you want the upgrade or not, When Microsoft decides that its time, the latest version will be pushed out to your computer. You will shut down your computer tonight and tomorrow morning when you turn on your computer, and open up your software, it will look different and things will have changed. You will have to learn where everything is again.

These cloud based rental systems are about creating a stable income stream for the companies, it has nothing to do with keeping you current or up to date with your software, its a simple question of economics. Its better to have 500,000 people paying $40.00 per month, every month for the rest of their lives, than that same 500,000 only updating their software every 5 or 10 years. They stand to make a lot more income from the rental method then the outright purchaser.

In my opinion, stay away from subscription based software for as long as you possibly can, I see no good coming from this system, only problems.


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