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ColdFusion 2021 Licensing Gone Mad

New Here ,
Sep 08, 2022 Sep 08, 2022

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We have been developing ColdFusion applications for over 20 years and I cannot believe what I am seeing with the Adobe ColdFusion 2021 pricing.


We have a client that we have been developing and maintaining an application for since the year 2000, one of oldest clients. Recently they sold the one divisions that uses the application to another company. So, they are going through the process of separating the parts of the business and moving the applications and network to the new entity.


The new company have decided to move all the infrastructure from inhouse hosted systems to a Microsoft Azure hosted system. It is 2022, so they may as well host everything in the Cloud, makes senses and what better time to do it then we you have to set up all the systems. The current application is used by approximately 100 employees and is used inhouse only. The current system runs on Adobe ColdFusion Server 2016 Standard Edition with a Microsoft SQL Server back end. It isn’t a very complex system but does integrate with some other applications. This will be the 4th or 5th version of ColdFusion used for the system, so it averages an upgrade every 4 or 5 years.


The new setup was to have a Production Server and a Staging Server, both of which where private Azure VM server are only accessible by employees that have access to the Azure AD this is not a system that has any public access.


So, we reviewed the Adobe ColdFusion 2021 EULA (https://www.adobe.com/go/cf2021_eula). Specifically looking for information regarding the Staging Server License. Section 1.8 says staging server uses license in respect to the production software.


  • “Development Software” means Software licensed solely for (a) internal development and testing; and (b) for use on a Staging Server, when Licensee is using the Software with respect to a valid license to the Production Software. In each case the Development Software may only be accessed by Authorized Users over the Licensee’s Internal Network.


The virtual machine was to be setup as 4 core server as there was other applications required to run on the server. And since ColdFusion 2021 Standard edition requires a license for every 2 cores, we would require 2 ColdFusion 2021 Standard licenses to run the application. The client was okay with this. So, two US$2,499.00 per full license, is US$5000. The client proceeded to contact Adobe about organising to purchase the software.


Adobe came back and said that ColdFusion 2021 Standard Edition cannot be installed in the Cloud. Even though they product page (https://www.adobe.com/products/coldfusion-standard.html) gives the appearance that it can. The first section is even titled “Take your applications to the cloud”. They specifically stated that Standard Edition could not be installed on Azure and AWS. We went back and looked at the EULA again and the words “Cloud”, “Azure” and “AWS” are never even mentioned in the document.


We searched the web and could not find any mention about not being allowed on Azure. Okay so, they would have to move ColdFusion 2021 Enterprise Edition. But since Enterprise Edition is for up to 8 cores. They would only need a single license at US$9,499.00 per full license. Not ideal, nearly twice what was budgeted for, but that could be done. So some more back and forwards with Adobe only to find out that the normal Enterprise Edition License that you can buy from the website also cannot be installed in the cloud. More searching the web finds a single line in the ColdFusion FAQ (https://helpx.adobe.com/coldfusion/enterprise/faq.html) under the Pricing, editions, and upgrading section.

  • Adobe ColdFusion (2021 release) is sold in two editions: Standard Edition costs US$2,499 per two cores, and Enterprise Edition costs US$9,499 per eight cores. ColdFusion can also be used for development at no cost with the complimentary Developer Edition, a full-featured server for development use only.
    You may also purchase ColdFusion Enterprise Edition on a per virtual core metric to deploy ColdFusion on the cloud or VMs. Reach out to adobecoldfusion@adobe.com for more details


So apparently there is a third pricing model called “per virtual core metric”. They came back with a price in the US$14,000 ball park for 4 cores, approximately $3,500 per core. And on top of that it is per year, so every year they keep the system running, will cost an additional US$14,000. I am sure they will increase that every year with some sort of review. Lets say the system goes another 4 years before a server and software upgrade without a price increase, that will be US$56,000 for the US$9,500 enterprise product with half the cores. All because a company doesn’t want to host a server in house.


Everyone is just shaking their heads. Once again, we reviewed the EULA, there is a lot of mention of Internal Network but most of it relates to Development or Staging Software. I have to wonder how many people are in breach of the Adobe ColdFusion license with regards to running it on VM’s outside their network (e.g in the “Cloud”) and having a normal license either standard or enterprise when they are supposed to be paying this “per virtual core metric” license.


We have started the move to implementing Lucee, which has most of the application running with minor changes. And a couple of hurdles to solve for the parts that Lucee doesn’t support, but can be solved with different approaches. Safe to say that we will be looking to ensure that all other clients system are Lucee compatible before any other software upgrades are need or they want to move to the Cloud.


I thought I would put this out there as I have not seen anything on the web with regards to this pricing model or other peoples experience with it. I am sure that a lot of people will think just buy the enterprise version off the website and install it. But after going through the EULA enough times now, Section 12 no doubt come back to bite them if they tried.

  • Adobe may, at its expense and no more than once every twelve (12) months, appoint an independent third party or Adobe’s internal auditor to verify the usage and number of copies and installations of the Software in use by Licensee.


Would like to hear if this is a well know thing with ColdFusion cloud pricing? It was bad enough they want one and a half times as much for half the cores, but to want it ever 12 months. I really don’t know how small to medium business will be able to afford to use the product any more, with more and more services moving to cloud based.

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Contributor ,
Sep 09, 2022 Sep 09, 2022

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That's a shocker. What difference to Adobe does it make regarding WHERE you host your service? For the extra cost of their cloud licencing model, do you benefit enough from hosting in the cloud to disregard the option of paying the "smaller" licence fee and running it on your own hardware? Probably not. I'd say buy your own server, host it on your company's LAN, and you'd save lots of money. A good server with redundant components will run for a decade without any trouble. (I'm a fan of Dell servers.)





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