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Adobe goes to the office

Jun 14, 20043 mins
Adobe SystemsEnterprise ApplicationsProgramming Languages

Releases server, components to manage corporate information.

Adobe, with its eye on addressing corporate needs to manage electronic information, last week rolled out a Java-based server and a set of services designed to help corporations create and share documents and integrate them into back-end systems.

The LiveCycle server is the new foundation for Adobe’s Intelligent Document Platform, which combines Adobe’s PDF format with XML and the company’s Reader front-end client. Intelligent Documents can “unlock” features of Reader such as local save, offline use, annotations and attachment support. They also provide the ability to automatically submit a document’s data to back-end systems, such as ERP or CRM, to eliminate re-keying of information.

The LiveCycle server, which is built on Java 2 Platform Enterprise Edition, will be complemented with a number of modules that plug into the platform, including Process Management for workflow and data integration, and Document Control and Security for access control, audit trails and authentication using digital signatures.

Adobe is battling in the electronics forms/document life-cycle market with several vendors including FileNet and Microsoft, which is combining Office, InfoPath and digital rights management technology into a secure enterprise document platform. Analysts say Adobe has to convince corporations that it can produce an enterprise-scale platform. To do that, the company is integrating a number of its point products, such as Form, Document and Policy servers into the LiveCycle server. But there also is more work to do.

“They now have lightweight workflow, but for sophisticated document management they will need to support [business process management],” says Robert Markham, senior industry analyst for Forrester Research. Markham says building LiveCycle on Java and moving Reader functionality to the server and away from the client is a good move. He contrasts that to Microsoft, which is tagging its features to the Windows desktop and will have to rely on third-party partners to provide integration among organizations with disparate technology.

Adobe’s platform includes three components: the Reader client, LiveCycle and Adobe Document Services. Last week, the company unveiled two new modules to go along with the existing Document Generation and Collaboration modules.

The new Process Management module lets companies capture data and integrate it with other systems. It includes Adobe Form Manager, which is expected to ship this fall, for publishing and managing forms; Form Server for deploying dynamic forms; and Adobe Barcoded Paper Forms for scanning in data from two-dimensional bar codes printed on paper. Also included is Reader Extensions Server for unlocking features of intelligent documents and Adobe Designer for turning existing forms into PDF and XML forms.

Pricing for the Process Management components start at $35,000 per CPU.Also new is the Document Control and Security Server, which lets security policies be applied at the server and desktop. The components include Adobe Document Security Server for server-side encryption, Adobe Acrobat software and Adobe Policy Server for applying policies online or offline and inside or outside the firewall. The Policy Server is slated to ship later this year.

Pricing for the Adobe Document Security Server starts at $50,000 per CPU. Pricing for the Policy Server will be announced when it ships.LiveCycle server is optimized to run on IBM WebSphere Application Server and IBM AIX server software. It also runs on JBoss application servers with a version for BEA Systems’ WebLogic expected to ship next month. LiveCycle also runs on Microsoft Windows Server, Linux, and Sun Solaris. Adobe plans to add support for Novell’s SuSE Linux platform and HP-UX.