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Adobe Creative CloudThere’s no turning back. Cloud computing is the next phase of the Internet’s evolution. This new era is shuffling bulky desktop PC’s out the door and access to unlimited amounts of data storage and software packages into your pocket…well, if that’s where you keep your phone.

More and more businesses are moving to the cloud for many reasons. Some include:

  • Data storage and backup (a.k.a. disaster recovery)
  • Document uploads and shared management—instead of emailing multiple versions around through email
  • Accounting and human resources software
  • E-mail marketing
  • Automatic software updates
  • Company efficiency
  • Cost savings—you don’t need to pay a retainer for an army of IT guys
  • The ability to work from anywhere—the office, the train, the kitchen table
  • Security—data can still be accessed in case of theft…or because your phone dove into the toilet

Cloud computing is ideal for businesses because the software is not confined to a single computer terminal or business network. Supervisors can now require staff to finish TPS reports while they’re on vacation. Seriously though, moving your business to the cloud is helpful for your customers too, as they can make online payments or schedule an appointment on their own time. Simply put, cloud computing increases efficiency, helps improve cash flow, and what business doesn’t want that?

But what if you don’t have a business, or an office? Do you personally need the cloud? It depends on what you are using your computer for. Creative professionals are facing a dilemma as Adobe has made its Creative Cloud the only way to get the new versions of its full software suite—via a $50 a month subscription. Some critics say that this move is a form of forced upselling. A lot of photo editors, for example would never buy Premiere Pro to make videos.

Adobe Systems CEO Shantanu Narayen, told CNET in an interview this week that the upselling accusation is totally untrue. It’s about enabling Adobe to innovate at a faster pace and delivering directly to customers through the cloud.

Adobe reported that Creative Cloud subscriptions jumped by 221,000 to reach 700,000 in the company’s second fiscal quarter. Narayen said the next generation of creatives is very comfortable with this approach of being able to pay for software as it’s used. The world is moving increasingly toward subscription models being the norm on the Internet.

“If we innovate and attract new customers, it will lead to growth,” Narayen said.

Whether you’re attracted to the cloud or not, you’re likely going to have to surrender to it. CRN Magazine reported online that small business spending on cloud computing will approach $100 billion by 2014.  By the end of 2013, consumer cloud services for accessing content will be integrated into 90 percent of all connected consumer devices, according to technology research and advisory firm Gartner, Inc.

For now you can get your feet wet, if you haven’t already done so, on some existing cloud services like Dropbox, iCloud, or Google Cloud, to name a few. If you are always forgetting your USB drive to transfer documents from work or school, have a lot of photos you’d like to share with a client but don’t have time to deliver a disk, want to store your music somewhere that doesn’t take up half of your computer’s space, or just want to make sure that your beloved electronic data is protected, look up to the cloud and see if it’s right for you.