Adobe is one of the best examples of how the software licensing landscape is experiencing changes as software vendors change their technologies and underlying licensing to meet the ever growing needs for SaaS and Cloud software. To help with the specific Adobe examples, Flexera has released it's "Adobe Practice Guide" which is now available along with all of our other "Flexera Practice Guides" in the Flexera Learning Center.
Below is an excerpt from the guide with a brief history of Adobe Licensing to help illustrate the changing landscape of software licensing today.
Recent History of Adobe Licensing Since 2013 Adobe has transformed its core product offerings from traditional boxed perpetual licensed software to a subscription model. Even though they still have locally installed software as well as cloud-based SaaS software, Adobe has now transitioned virtually all offerings to the subscription model. The most common example of this mixed model (locally installed/subscription model) is Creative Cloud (CC), from enterprise level to consumer. Core products such as Photoshop, Illustrator, Acrobat and the Creative Cloud Suite are still deployed locally but licensed on a monthly subscription basis. Each time an end-user runs a locally installed product, it automatically checks for an active cloud subscription online before the application will function. Other offerings such as Marketing Cloud are traditional SaaS solutions without locally installed applications. During this transition to subscription, we have witnessed many soft agreements with Adobe for forfeiture or conversion of perpetual licensing to subscription. In these cases, there have been verbal agreements to relinquish all perpetual licensing in exchange for an initial discount on enterprise subscription licenses. However, we have not encountered these agreements documented in contractual form. For this reason, many Adobe customers continue to deploy and use older perpetual licenses where needed. For conversion to subscription, there has been little clarity from Adobe on what end-users can do with old perpetual products they may still use. Also, there has not been a clear or simple path to transition large populations of users with varying mixes of older perpetual product versions and editions along with current Creative Cloud level subscriptions. To further muddy the waters, perpetual licensing was managed on a per-device basis (with secondary use-rights) while Creative Cloud is managed on a named-user basis. Accurately tracking license consumption when mixing these differing models in a large environment is quite difficult, making consolidation of all users to Creative Cloud more attractive.