Adobe’s Move to the Cloud Impacts School Software Plans

Following along with Microsoft's changes to its popular productivity suite Office, Adobe recently announced that it will stop selling its Creative Suite package, which includes popular tools like Acrobat and Photoshop. Instead the company will be rebranding these tools as online services and charging users monthly subscription fees for access.

Creative Suite 6 will continue to be sold for a limited time, but the company plans to sunset the product, announcing that no further updates or patches will be released. The announcement, which took many by surprise, showcases Adobe's renewed commitment to transition to cloud-based computing.

The change is likely to have a substantial impact on education institutions that use Adobe products. The company plans to offer discounted plans aimed at the education market. Schools will be able to purchase access to Photoshop, Acrobat and InDesign for $19.99 a month per student. Over the course of the year, the price will total about $240.

The change is not without its upsides. According to Adobe, switching to the cloud will allow the company to deploy upgrades faster and more cheaply. Adobe also benefits from decreased rates of piracy – which, especially with Photoshop, was endemic – while users get newer features on a regular basis without shelling out money beyond the subscription fee.

Does our school have the bandwidth to run these cloud-based applications? The short answer: Maybe. In preparation for the Common Core State Standards, many K–12 schools have upgraded their IT infrastructures to support more data-intensive online assessments. If your school has completed this overhaul or some other upgrade, it might be ready to adopt more cloud-based services.

At a minimum, the nonprofit State Educational Technology Directors Association says school networks should be capable of processing 100 megabytes per second per 1,000 students. Though those recommendations increase with the number of cloud-based services in use. Within five years, the same report suggests that school networks support speeds of 1 gigabyte per second per 1,000 users.

A recent article on Forbes notes that cloud users will likely still have to download the software to their desktop machines, as most of the applications are too data-intensive to run straight from the cloud. Though that could change as the technology improves.

Although schools don't have to make a decision to continue using Adobe tools once the company goes subscription-based, the clock is ticking. Educational institutions can continue to use stand-alone Adobe products, but according to Ed Tech Magazine, the fact that Adobe is likely to end support for them in the near future will put pressure on the schools to upgrade to the subscription service or switch altogether.

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