Why it matters: Smaller companies like Plex have a lot to gain from going to the Cloud, but they rely on the infrastructure of others to make it viable. If you can't knock down prices and keep maintenance costs down, you're forced into some hard decisions, which is what happened today.
The company behind the Plex Media Server will be retiring its Plex Cloud service after not being able to appropriately address the existing technical issues and business model.
During its short, two-year, existence, Plex Cloud was plagued by technical issues, which had already led the company to disable the creation of new servers back in February 2018, due to "challenges with performance, quality, and overall user experience inherent with cloud provider integrations". After much deliberation, the company has deemed the service too costly to maintain and has decided to shut it down: "We've made the difficult decision to shut down the Plex Cloud service on November 30th, 2018," said the company in an email to its users.
Plex Cloud is part of the Plex Pass subscription service (Plex itself is free), and provides streaming content functionality for media you stored on cloud storage services such as Google Drive, Dropbox or OneDrive. This way you needn't keep a powered-on device in your home to stream content and use uploaded media directly from these services. It was easy for customers and, theoretically, for Plex.
However, Plex explained, "we haven’t found a solution capable of delivering a truly first class Plex experience to Plex Cloud users at a reasonable cost". Which sounds a perfectly legitimate and upfront way of saying it was too expensive to maintain.
The infrastructure behind it was a bit complex, we understand. 3rd party integration allowed files to 'stream' from a cloud storage provider to Plex's own servers, which would then transcode/stream the content to the user's device. This was a costly model for Plex that ended up diverting too many resources. Ultimately, what Plex needs is a 'Hail Mary' pass from the likes of Amazon, but right now it will trigger a change in direction for the media server company.
If you need to know what happens to your service on November 30th, Plex has set up a FAQ for you.