Creative Cloud not working

Lessons from the Adobe Creative Cloud down incident

If you are using Adobe Creative Cloud (the recent subscription-based cloud-based solution for Adobe tools including Photoshop), or if you know somebody using it, there are 99% chance that you heard that Adobe service broke down on 14-May and is just going back up as I write this.

Note that Photoshop CC is only available inside Creative Cloud, but Lightroom is still available as a DVD-based or downloadable license independent of Creative Cloud. Same for the old Photoshop CS6.

When Adobe launched this kind of solution and when they made it compulsory in order to obtain the most recent version of their tools, some people warned that this was a major blow into the capacity to maintain a reliable capacity to work on our photos. Most either ignored the warning, downplayed its importance or or did not understand the full breadth of the risk. Today, the reality check is here; And it’s hurting real bad with thousands of professionnals waiting for the service to come back while trying to explain to their customers that nothing can be done until Adobe finds a solution (
I sympathize sincerely).

Creative Cloud not working

Of course, this suspended animation state is bad in itself (nobody missed that). But this is highlighting the issues at hand that were less obvious or more difficult to understand.

  1. Unique/single failure point: If/when Adobe fails, we have no other option than wait. We are used to having a computer fail or a software stopping to work and -usually- it’s only (!) a matter of moving the DVD to a new PC, switching over to another workstation or another professional. Now, all Adobe customers fail in the same minute. This is a systemic risk like we are afraid of in the global bank system. No fall back option.
  2. Opacity: The fact that Adobe Creative Cloud is far outside the scope of its users (except maybe some global-level customers who may have a direct line with Adobe management) makes it nearly impossible to have visibility. And in this kind of situation, we, the users, want/need to know immediately a/ what is happening, b/ what we can do to mitigate the situation (even if nothing is possible), c/ how/when the solution will be available. [And today, Adobe communication is an exemple… of what should not be done]

Is ease of subscription worht it? Is the flexibility of having always the latest release version at your hand worth it? This is anybody’s choice and the choice cannot be done for you. But, since we have some time on our hands (if your customers are not shooting on the phone right now), it’s time to think about our choices.