Computer software companies are delivering software to end users in a new way. Software is now delivered through cloud computing, where users have access to applications and data from remote servers via the Internet. Users rent or subscribe to applications and costs are lowered because of sharing of resources and economies of scale. Printers are becoming more aware of cloud computing as Adobe pushes its cloud delivery for Creative Suite products.
Adobe now offers Creative Suite and its various components as Software as a Service (SaaS). SaaS is on-demand software delivery service, in which the software and associated data are centrally hosted on the cloud.
A subscription-based offering, Adobe Creative Cloud was introduced with the recent release of Adobe Creative Suite 6. For a monthly subscription, Creative Cloud gives users access to download and install all CS6 applications on their computers. Users can then store and share content across desktop, mobile devices, and the cloud. As Adobe updates the software, users will have immediate access to new features, so subscribers always have access to the latest version. The price is $49.99 a month.
The software is downloaded and resides on the user’s computer. A user can download all of the programs at once or download individual programs as the need arises. The subscription also allows for programs to reside on up to two computers (a primary and a back-up). If you have two computers running Mac OS X and Windows OS, you can install the programs on both operating systems. However, both computers cannot run the software at the same time. Files that are created by the application reside on the user’s computer.
The Future is Cloudy
Adobe sees collaboration among users as a major advantage of cloud computing. Users have the ability to collaborate with clients or co-workers on projects. With a subscriber’s permission, a collaborator can access and comment on limited dedicated files within an Adobe Creative Cloud account. The 20GB of online storage allows users to access and share their files on laptops, desktops, tablets, and between Macs and Windows PCs.
Adobe isn’t the only cloud service printers should consider using. Online backup services such as Carbonite, Acronis True Image Online, JungleDisk, Mozy, Backblaze and others use cloud technology to keep data files safe. Too often, print shops think that just having data files backed up to another hard drive is all they need to stay safe. Unless that data on the hard drive is taken out of the facility each day, it could be destroyed in a major disaster such as a fire or flood. Offsite backup to the cloud is inexpensive insurance; the services cost just a few dollars a month.
A number of print-specific SaaS applications are available. Insider Software, maker of FontAgent Pro and the Web-based font catalog WEBSIWYG, is offering a commercial cloud-based font server. FontAgent Pro Cloud Server lets users maintain a centralized, cloud-based library of verified fonts to share on a subscription basis to ensure font license compliance. Introductory prices for range from $3.50 to $6.95 per month per user. Print Watchdog allows print shop owners the ability to track all of their printing jobs online and see status of the job immediately. The cost is $9.95 a month.
One of the latest companies to focus on the quick and small commercial printing market is Keen Systems. Touted as the first true cloud software for the printing industry, the company offers an online ordering program that helps printers handle all e-commerce tasks from finding prospects to taking orders to handling shipping. The company was recently selected by the Printing Industries of America to receive a 2012 InterTech Technology Award for its SaaS and cloud-based Web-to-print software.
Printers have already seen a number of companies offer SaaS services for Web-to-print, such as Pageflex, Four51, and PageDNA. The Digital Printing Council of PIA has created a special website (www.w2ptestdrive.com) that allows printers to compare most of the Web-to-print services currently available in the print industry.