Photoshop This! The Adobe Licensing Decision


Publishers change the way they sell their software all the time, so the last few years of Adobe licensing changes, though huge, really aren’t that surprising. Unfortunately, however, many colleges and universities, out of shock and/or exasperation, seem to have surrendered, bought a site license for Creative Cloud, and decided that there’s just no point in tracking or even thinking about usage anymore.

It’s an understandable position to take if you assume that site-wide subscriptions are final, and Adobe will never modify their licensing model again (except for price increases, of course :D). The problem is that Adobe already is changing its pricing model again, specifically for higher ed, in direct response to the feedback they’ve received from the educational community.

Our position has always been that it’s helpful to record usage data, even under a stable licensing model, because it allows you to negotiate with a vendor from a position of certainty about what you actually need. Usage data is especially helpful when there is a change to the way a product is sold and you have to adjust to the new pricing structure. The all-or-nothing model only works for so long, even for a company like Adobe, and they are working now to finalize details on the new buying options for institutions of higher learning. No, it’s not the Autodesk model (wouldn’t that be nice!?). It is a model, however, that offers you a couple of reasonable choices, if you have the information you need to make the right decision. Generally stated, the new options are:

pay FTE for a site license
pay per computer for labs & per user for staff.

As far as we know, the details haven’t all been ironed out just yet, but here’s the burning question: do you have the data you need to make the right decision when the time comes? Based on our observations, KeyServer clients tend to fall into one of three categories:

  1. You have a policy or policies for Creative Cloud in place, and have therefore been tracking all the data you need—you just need to run the right reports to compile it in a useful way. If you fall into this category, congratulations—just make sure staff computer divisions are separate from student/lab divisions in KeyConfigure and run usage reports on Adobe products to see where you stand. When pricing is released, you can easily compare the costs between pricing models, make the right choice, backed up by data, and be the hero.
  2. You haven’t had a policy in place, but you have some time before your current subscription expires. Great! Make sure your computer divisions are in order, run an audit report to determine what’s installed where, and create a site policy now to track Adobe usage. When the time comes to make a decision, you’ll be ready.
  3. If it’s too late to start tracking data because you’re in the process of deciding what to do with Adobe now, take a deep breath, pick up the phone, and give us a call. There are no guarantees, but we may be able to help. There is likely a treasure trove of data buried in your KeyServer, and while you may not have the depth of usage data an observe or manage policy would provide, we can probably help you compile whatever useful information is there.

It never hurts to collect usage data, even if you think you don’t need it. Licensing models change all the time, and each change brings with it a new decision. Keep your KeyServer Divisions and Policies up-to-date and be prepared. Don’t forget that your annual KeyServer renewal includes a configuration review call, where we can log into your KeyServer with you via remote support screen sharing, and help you configure or reconfigure your computers, Products, and Policies as needed to make sure you’ll have the data you need, when you need it.


We have made a video from a webinar we held that looks at some hands on configuration and reporting:


Training and implementation specialist by day, user experience designer by night, Jason helps users learn the ropes of Sassafras, while mining their difficulties for ways to improve the product. As his father once told him: “Join me, and I will complete your training. With our combined strength, we can end this destructive conflict and bring order to the galaxy!”

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