Why Adobe’s Creative Cloud is a really, really bad idea for the sheeple

Adobe Creative Cloud logo

Last Wednesday, May 14, at around 2PM PST Adobe’s cloud services went down rendering Creative Cloud, Digital Publishing Suite, and anything else that required authentication with an Adobe ID dead in the water.

Then it got worse: The services stayed down for a staggering 28 hours and, shall we say, “inconvenienced” about 1,000,000 users.

I write “staggering” because subscribers to Creative Cloud aren’t, in the main, using the various cloud products for fun; these are workhorse apps that underpin real, critical business needs and when they go down for any length of time people are losing money.

When I first heard of Creative Cloud being the future strategic direction for Adobe I was surprised and doubtful that users of apps such as InDesign and Photoshop would be comfortable with what amounts to losing control of their tools. To my surprise, many of these users did, with little complaint, migrate sheep-like to Adobe’s cloud offerings and now, I suspect, are coming to regret it.

Adobe’s rationale wasn’t anything to do with improved functionality or performance, it was a very obvious and, given the downside for users, cynical move to convert buyers into renters forcing those who would drag their heels when it came to paying for upgrades into becoming a predictable revenue stream.

Throughout the outage Adobe tweeted the usual customer disservice platitudes: “Thanks for your patience and understanding of the issue. We will post a tweet message when this is resolved.” and “We're currently experiencing an outage affecting user's ability to sign in to our services. We are working on a fix- stay tuned.”

Adobe’s cloud services came back online at 5PM PDT on Thursday (May 15) and the problem was explained by Adobe in a blog post at 11:20AM PDT today (Friday, May 16) as being due to a problem encountered during database maintenance:

Several Adobe services were down or unreachable for many of you over the last 24 hours. The failure happened during database maintenance activity and affected services that require users to log in with an Adobe ID.

We want to assure you that this was not security related – none of your information or content was lost or exposed.

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. 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.

We are aware that we didn’t meet your expectations (or ours) today. For this, we apologize. Thanks for bearing with us as we worked to resolve this – and know that we will do better.

To describe the time it took to fix the problem as “frustrating” is weaselly and disingenuous and thanking users for “bearing with us” is ridiculous as it’s not as if the users had any choice! And will Adobe be compensating anyone for their lost time and lost opportunity? When pigs fly.

I used to have a lot of respect for Adobe for their line of creative products (though not for that ball of bugs and bad decisions known as Acrobat) but to see the company sucker users into potentially less reliable, less available, and more complicated versions of those same apps not because they were making the apps better but because it would make Adobe richer was sad. And, sadly, predictable.

As for the users that got dragged along with little or no screaming or fighting but because they couldn’t live without the latest version of Photoshop or InDesign or Lightroom, I feel sorry for them but as a wise man once sad: “If they weren’t sheep they wouldn’t get shorn.”

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