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Adobe Creative Cloud becomes a team player

The company builds out its subscription software model to incorporate group design workflows, with mixed results.

The Creative Cloud application download screen.

I'm not a big fan of the subscription pricing model for software, especially software on the critical path for production work. I like knowing that in five years I won't still be paying for software that I didn't really need to upgrade, or that if Adobe suddenly decides a subscription is worth $99/month, I'm not caught flat-footed looking for a Photoshop replacement because I don't really own the version I've been using. But some people like it, some don't; some think it's overpriced, others think it's a steal. (Read our survey results on that.) So the all-you-can-eat Creative aspect of the system is a little less interesting to me than the Cloud potential. And with its rollout of Creative Cloud for Teams (CCT), the company has taken one step closer to realizing that potential.

For the uninitiated, Creative Cloud is a little more like Google Apps than Google Drive; you can view, comment on, and work with the files in some rudimentary ways online, not just sync and share.

CCT essentially offers a centrally managed Creative Cloud account where you add and remove seats on an as-needed basis. It's really a 21st century version of the floating-license model made more efficient to manage because you can remotely deactivate a user and because each user can download the appropriate software on an as-needed basis. Each seat comes with 100GB of cloud storage -- compared with 20GB for the personal account -- including shared folders for collaborations, as well as access to the entire collection of applications. Pricing is $69.99 per seat per month for an annual contract; there's a promotional price of $49.99 per month per seat for CS3 or later users for the first year. That includes 2 expert support sessions per user per seat and access to training materials.

While I think CCT certainly has promise, in its initial incarnation I think it poses more problems. I think $70 a month per seat is expensive unless you're currently paying for multiple users to use multiple Adobe applications. You can't split seats -- for instance, you can't give one user rights to Photoshop and another Premiere.

More important, the applications aren't really collaboration-ready. Basically, you're still just passing files around; there's no version control or (my peeviest of pet peeves) there's still no easy, efficient way to back up, sync, or share settings for the individual applications, and certainly not between users. Adobe Application Manager, which controls all installations and updates, still has quite a few, um, quirks to work out. The applications themselves don't indicate anywhere whether or not it's part of a CC account.

You can't pool the storage so that, say, Premiere video editors get more than Muse designers. Then again, I guess that doesn't matter since CC doesn't yet support video. The Creative Cloud Connection, a Dropbox-like watched folder, gives you no alternate or multiple folder location options, and even now tells me it's unable to sync files for unknown reasons.

But that's just my take. Do you think CCT makes sense for your commercial workflow?