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New Adobe licensing policy limits CS

By Andrew Ta     9/3/14 2:48pm

The Adobe Creative Suite is no longer available at many computers throughout campus. Due to changes in Adobe’s licensing model, the software is now available only in classrooms in Anderson Hall, the Visual and Dramatic Arts’s Media Center, Fondren Library’s Digital Media Center, and several general use computers on Fondren’s ground floor, according to Barry Ribbeck, Director of Systems, Architecture, Infrastructure, Cloud Strategies and Initiatives at Rice University.

“[Adobe] is following a pay-per-use model,” Ribbeck said. “In previous years, software was released through Adobe in what is called a perpetual license. In a perpetual license, you buy the software and you own it, and it’s yours to keep for that version."

According to Ribbeck, Rice owns 25 perpetual licenses of Adobe’s CS6, originally purchased by the architecture department. Previously, Rice could use those licenses across campus, so long as there weren’t more than 25 concurrent users, as monitored by a license server. Under current license structures, the software can only be installed on specific machines for which licensing is paid on an annual basis.



“We used to take the 25 perpetual license and spread them across a large group of people using a license server,” Ribbeck said. “We still keep those 25 [licenses for CS6]. Any new licenses go on this new subscription type where you pay per year.”

Ribbeck said Adobe offers a site license that would allow Rice Information Technologies to maintain the Creative Suite on all computers that could access it previously, but that the cost and lack of use was prohibitive. Rice only uses site licenses for products like Microsoft Office.

“The cost before was a lot less, it was just the maintenance fee for 25 licenses,” Ribbeck said. “Now, we pay $180 per seat, per year. To buy 800 seats, it would be $144,000 per year. So we’re not doing that. We don’t use enough of the product to warrant the cost.”

According to Ribbeck, the remaining licenses are being used in combination with new licenses to maintain the Creative Suite’s availability at specific locations where it was used in the past.

“What we’re doing right now is putting it in spots that are very strategic on campus and seeing what kind of activity we get,” Ribbeck said. “The good news is that if we find there’s this huge demand, and we have to buy more, we can deploy it very quickly, it’s just a matter of getting the funds to cover the cost.”

Computers that no longer have access to the Creative Suite will now have open-source alternatives like Gimp, LibreDraw, and Scribus, Ribbeck said.

Ribbeck said new licensing models have already arrived, and that Rice IT will handle changes as they come.

“That’s our fear, that more and more software companies will switch over to this new licensing model, and maybe even make it only available on the web,” Ribbeck said. “Then what do we do? This is nothing unusual with software companies. Nothing unusual with IT. Our business is about change, and this is just a change in how software companies are starting to move.  This is just another change that we’re going to have to go through.”

Ribbeck said any feedback from students about this change or other IT topics should go to Manager of  IT Tech Communications Carlyn Chatfield, who can be reached at carlyn@rice.edu.



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