Tom Edwards had deadlines to hit. Clients to answer to. Money to make.
He couldn't get any of it done when Adobe's software crash last week locked out him and the rest of its million users from its online subscription service.
"The login failure meant that we could not complete scheduled workloads for three of our customers, all of which had updates and changes to be made to their websites, one business critical, as well as finish design mock-ups for another client," said Edwards, founder & director of Digital Edwards, a Berkshire, UK-based creative and marketing agency.
Full Day's Work Gone
Edwards has a team of four full-time staff as well as a reliable source of freelancers it often uses to help fill in the gaps.
It uses the Adobe Creative Cloud online subscription service primarily for Photoshop, Dreamweaver, InDesign and Illustrator for the design and creation of graphic print, website design, development and day-to-day updates for its Adobe Business Catalyst client websites. Adobe Business Catalyst is a Web CMS aimed for building and maintaining websites.
The lockout lasted about 24 hours starting this past Wednesday, according to Adobe. Several Adobe services were affected, Adobe said in a blog statement.
"The failure happened during database maintenance activity and affected services that require users to log in with an Adobe ID," Adobe said.
Because of it, Edwards and his team lost a complete working day's time for two people internally during Thursday, "time we as a small business now can not invoice for," he told CMSWire.
"We also had several customers severely question the trust and security of the Adobe Business Catalyst system we had spent several weeks selling and promoting to them," he added.
Adobe did not respond to requests for commentary for this piece.
He wasn't alone. In a 120-plus-commented Adobe Business Catalyst blog post, users decried the login lockout.
Neil Eisenberg, one of those users, said he was "held hostage" and that the 24-hour outage was "not acceptable." Eisenberg is owner of the Design Intervention Studio, a web design shop out of Woodstock, N.Y.
Catching up with CMSWire Friday, Eisenberg said 90 percent of his business is run through Adobe Business Catalyst. He has been a premium partner since 2010.
"In order to administer the site content and make changes," Eisenberg said, "it is necessary to log in to the admin section of everyone's site. Effective this past Wednesday, Adobe changed the login for partners to have to coincide with your Adobe ID login."
Effectively, Eisenberg said, this locked out all Adobe Business Catalyst partners out of their clients' sites for an entire day.
"Since our IDs are also used for FTP it affected that, too," Eisenberg added, "and also some functionality in the form of APIs that talk to other services."
Customers who use an email address and password that is not and Adobe ID -- they are still permitted to do that -- were able to log in to their own sites and make changes, Eisenberg told CMSWire.
"This seems minor, but it created lots of issues, which seemingly would be non-issues if Adobe hadn’t mandated the use of Adobe IDs just one day prior to a system crash that rejected those very IDs," Eisenberg said.
Adobe's Florin Carlig on the Business Catalyst blog post Wednesday told users that Business Catalyst was upgrading the login workflow for Adobe ID users.
"The update will change the login screen to the partner portal and will require partners to use an Adobe ID to log in to their Business Catalyst sites," Carlig said.
But users were soon locked out, and left searching for answers from Adobe Systems Incorporated, a San Jose-based company of about 11,000 employees:
"This is ridiculous!!" a user said on the Adobe blog. "I am unable to update several websites. I have never imagined giving a company complete control of all my access. There has to be a better job of communicating and testing items before you make a huge push like this."
Discovering the Bug
As for Edwards, his U.K. team has been using Creative Cloud pretty much since the end of December 2012, although Edwards suspects it was still just single apps at that stage. He pays on average about $85 per month per user, and it has two users at present, without adding Adobe Business Catalyst costs onto that.
He learned of the outage initially first thing Thursday morning (about 7 a.m. U.K. time) due to login failures on several Business Catalyst websites.
"From here all of the Creative Cloud apps I had open failed to load," Edwards said, "and I could not sign back in myself using my Adobe ID."
Edwards then came upon the Business Catalyst blog, and the comments quickly alerted him to the "severity of the issue in hand."
"I personally don't think Adobe has done enough to explain the issue let alone compensate the very people they rely on to help sell and promote the Creative Cloud system," Edwards told CMSWire. "I have only had small issues before with Creative Cloud, nothing on this scale that has affected business and productivity in this way."
Sticking with Adobe
Eisenberg told CMSWire the Creative Cloud piece didn’t affect him other than the fact he would have needed to connect with his Business Catalyst sites through Dreamweaver, which also couldn’t be done.
One of the early adopters to Creative Cloud, he said it's personally better for him because under the old system it actually cost him more to stay up to date.
"I learned a long time ago that if you want to be on the cutting edge of design or development, you need to go with Adobe," Eisenberg said. "Trying to circumvent them always ends up costing more in the long run. I have been happy with my involvement with Adobe, and I find the Business Catalyst Community to be responsive, knowledgeable and helpful. In this case, they know they screwed up. Having any possible interaction require login, and then having the login break down, is just stupid."