May 14 2013

Why More Software Is Headed to the Cloud

Many of your favorite software suites are trading in their shiny discs for cloud-based distribution.

Software is eating the world, as Silicon Valley venture capitalist Marc Andreessen once said. But what happens when the cloud scarfs down software?

Last week, during Adobe’s annual MAX conference, the software giant announced that it would shift its resources to exclusively support the Adobe Creative Cloud and no longer update the venerated Adobe Creative Suite. Historically, Adobe CS has been distributed as a collection of discs or a digital download, and the last version of the software suite was Adobe CS6, which was released in April 2012.

Creative Cloud, a cloud-based subscription version of the company’s suite of applications, launched last year, so the product has had time to find its footing.

“We launched Creative Cloud a year ago, and it has been a runaway success,” said David Wadhwani, senior vice president and general manager of digital media for Adobe, in a press release announcing the change. “By focusing our energy — and our talented engineers — on Creative Cloud, we’re able to put innovation in our members’ hands at a much faster pace.”

Adobe isn’t the only one thinking cloud-first these days. Microsoft has also taken its iconic productivity suite to the cloud with Office 365, which the company first introduced in 2011.

“With Office 365, your local bakery can get enterprise-caliber software and services for the first time, while a multinational pharmaceutical company can reduce costs and more easily stay current with the latest innovations. People can focus on their business, while we and our partners take care of the technology,” said Kurt DelBene, president of the office division at Microsoft, ahead of the product’s launch.

While Adobe and Microsoft are recent converts to the no-on-premises-software vision of the future, Salesforce has long held a pro-cloud approach to its CRM solution.

“No software, no hardware means you’re up and running and positively impacting your business in no time at all,” reads a line from the marketing section of the company’s site.

Some users have expressed reservations about giving up on-premises software for a cloud-based approach. On the plus side, with a cloud application, upgrades can be deployed instantly and without the cumbersome process of loading a series of discs and punching in serial codes. On the downside, a cloud-based approach means a subscription, which means users will have to adjust to paying a recurring fee instead of a one-time fee for on-premises software.

But cloud-based subscription software is steadily gaining converts.

Mobiquity, a mobile-solutions developer, recently switched to Office 365 and found that the flexibility and the pay-as-you-go nature of the cloud work better for its mobile operations than the on-premises solution.

“All of those apps are in the cloud and let users quickly transition to what they need to do. We’ve been in the cloud from the start, and even as we grow, we’ve decided there’s really no need to incur the huge costs of building an on-premises infrastructure,” said Mobiquity infrastructure architect Tim Harney in a recent BizTech article.