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Adobe processor price switch riles developers

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Programmers are shocked and angered by a change to how Adobe charges for its LiveCycle Data Services 3.0, raising questions over their continued loyalty to Flex.

Pricing for the freshly-minted LCDS has been branded unaffordable with non-enterprise IT shops canceling projects. Adobe has introduced what amounts to a $30,000 price hike to run LCDS in live production environments.

The irony is that some of those doing the complaining on an Adobe blog actually helped the company test and build LCDS 3.0 by participating in the company's beta program last year.

Such is their concern over the scale of the increase and what it means for what Adobe might do in future, some of these loyalists are now looking at getting off of Adobe entirely for fear it could act with such abandon on other products.

They have eschewed Blaze, Adobe's open-source subset LCDS, for alternatives like GranideDS and Web Orb, while some may dump Flex entirely.

The catalyst was the introduction of LCDS 3.0 last November, which saw Adobe scrap a license that let you run the software for free on a machine with a single CPU and also scrap a low-cost 100-user license. LCDS 3.0 now starts at $30,000 per on a single CPU.

Developers do get to continue using what Adobe called an LCDS development environment for free. Adobe used to offer this, before LCDS 3.0. Traditionally, though, development versions for software cannot be used in live deployment and are only for build and testing.

The reaction to the change in the two-months since LCD 3.0 was released in November was swift and consistent.

One commenter on Adobe senior product manager Anil Channappa's blog described themselves as a "former customer" saying the change meant that for a server project with 50 people they'd pay $559 per user. "That is more then we planned to take for our complete product," the commenter said.

A commenter called Matthew on Channappa's blog said the rug had been pulled from him, as his business has based its strategy around an "affordable" LCDS license.

He joined another commenter who claimed in December, a month after the change, the he knew of "three very big" projects that had voted against using LCDS because of the costs.

A commenter called Gloria posted on Friday last week that her organization's discussion of how to transition off LCDS had opened a broader debate of how to move forward without Flex, because of Adobe's "lack of regard" for the user. "It's very jarring for me as a business to see such dramatic changes without a low cost path," Gloria wrote.

Developer Glenn Williams who'd been on the beta three program said he was "totally blown away" by the magnitude of the price increases, having started to map out some strategies in 2010 for a number of clients based on LCDS. "I've had to make some really uncomfortable calls to a number of clients that I've been in talks with this past year," he wrote.

In an emailed response to The Reg, LCDS group product marketing manager Chris Ethier said Adobe is "investigating options to address some concerns from developers to make it easier and more affordable for small to medium businesses to be able to OEM or purchase" LCDS.

He also repeated Channappa's claim on his blog in December that Adobe is looking at a hosted - or managed services - version of LCDS to make it more affordable, in an attempt to placate developers and staunch the growing exodus.

Ethier did not provide further information on when this managed services, or the other changes, might be introduced. ®

Thanks to former Adobe principal scientist Jeff Vroom for highlighting this issue.

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