Nostalgic Status Report

In a previous life I spent a few years doing strategic planning at a telecommunications company. One of my responsibilities was to contribute to the long term network evolution plan that would be the roadmap for key network investments and build outs. This was back in the late 1990’s.

One of the things we talked about way back then was a concept called IP Multimedia Subsystem, or IMS. IMS for us was the core of the next generation converged public telephone system. Creating it was our holy grail. It would allow you to build a network that would be access independent and support rich media communications. An IMS core meant that the cellular network, your home phone, and a soft phone on your PC are all using the same system. Not simply interworked through gateways but actually the same system. Applications created for one are available to all.

Without getting into the how’s (we’ll leave that the the phone companies) an IMS based network could allow you to do things like start a phone call, promote it to a video call, then as part of the same conversation open a window and transfer some files to a co-worker. How about being able to see the presence of your brother in Vancouver before you make the call and get his voicemail? Or selecting to simultaneously ring my home phone and my cabin phone? Better yet how about it the call follows me and rings the cabin phone automatically once I get the the cabin?

Many of these types of features are now available in today’s VoIP PBX systems. There is also a growing list of features like these in services such as Google Voice and Google+ and Microsoft’s Lync/Skype integration. It’s not hard to see why telco’s consider these guys as the next big competitors.

But as I said, that was the late 1990’s. At the time I don’t think I appreciated how far ahead we were looking. The Google machine tells me that IMS was developed by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) as a packet switched Next Generation Network for cellular networks in 1998/99. The dates elude me now by I am pretty sure we had it in our plan as early as 1997. If that is so then it must have been based on some pre-standard work.

Today I find myself working at the very same telephone company, but this time in the role of a unified communications consultant. Yesterday I sat in on a presentation by my successors in the planning department for an update on IMS. To my great chagrin I hear that the world is still in early days of deploying this technology. Some companies in North America and Europe have deployed, removed and redeployed systems trying to find the right mix of vendors. Others are just in their initial deployment stages. My employer is at the lab stage; testing and validating and developing fulfillment and assurance processes. Launch of commercial services based on our shiny new IMS core won’t be for another year.

Wow. Our network strategic plan has taken 15 years to come to fruition. A large part of that time has been waiting for the technology to mature; perhaps only the last couple of years could be blamed on other factors. Most of the people in the room have no notion that we talked about this so long ago. It’s all very exciting and they chomp at the bit to sell the new services. I do too, but a part of me is feeling maybe a little old that the others have no idea this isn’t “new” and maybe a bit proud too. Not too many arrows shot today will land as close to the target 15 years from now as our plan did. A little late and $3.5B in capital investment later, but right on the mark.

Creative Cloud is unCreative Robbery

I was very disappointed to find out Adobe had decided to end sales of Creative Suite in favor of a leasing model through Creative Cloud. Judging from a few minutes surfing the web the vast majority of web posters agree.

In my case I had looked at the option when I was thinking about upgrading to CS6. Based on the upgrade costs and frequency I calculated an upgrade to CS6 was more economical for me than moving to the Cloud. Since I had already made the big investment in the original purchase, upgrades were about half the price. Yes, some of the Cloud features interest me. I would like to play with Muse, but not at $180 per year. I also do not need to storage and collaboration aspect of Creative Cloud. I already have several cloud storage accounts and as a one man design shop I have no real collaboration requirements.

Frankly I don’t see how Adobe can claim CC is cheaper even if you include the original full retail cost of the software. It looks cheaper for the first 10 years but then the pendulum swings in favor of buying. Yes, 10 years is a long time but how long have you owned a copy of Microsoft Office? Designers who use the applications in CS are long term users. Career users. These are not typically consumer level buyers. No one I know would buy Illustrator over the other alternatives out there just to play around, not when Illustrator is 5 to 6 times the price.

The other big gotcha with Adobe’s plan and possibly the biggest one is when you quite paying, you have nothing. Going back to my 10 payback model, you would have spent $6000 and will have exactly nothing to show for it the day you let you subscription lapse. With a purchase model I would still have functioning copies of all of the applications in the suite.

I do like the cloud only concept though. I usually buy as a download if I can, and avoiding the packaging step does allow for immediate version updates as bug fixes and new features are developed. On this point I agree with Adobe.

It really comes down to the pricing. Adobe has just doubled my future cost of ownership and I have received very little in return. Practically nothing. Certainly nothing worth more than $5 per month for some storage.

I have to agree with the posting populous. It a straight out money grab. I am going to hold off for as long as possible. Maybe they will get enough of a backlash and change their mind, just like they did with the Touch app Kuler.

Sans Wha?

Ever wonder where the fonts you use today came from? No? Well, you should. Here is a nice short clip telling the history of typography.