Adobe readies document services platform

Adobe Systems is unveiling a Java-based server platform designed to help automate and accelerate the flow of information PDF...

Adobe Systems is unveiling a Java-based server platform designed to help automate and accelerate the flow of information PDF documents.

The company will also introduce several new and updated products that take advantage of the technology. All the products are part of Adobe's Intelligent Document Platform, a plan to make PDF with XML additions a common way to get data in and out of enterprise systems.

Using Adobe's products, organisations can process data sent in PDF forms automatically, so that there is no need to re-enter the information into their own systems. Data from those systems can also be displayed in a PDF file. Adobe's pitch rivals Microsoft's XML plans for Office and InfoPath and competes with products from smaller suppliers.

"We have a single way to connect to all the different data sources in an enterprise," said Sydney Sloan, a group product marketing manager at Adobe. End users already interact with many back-end systems through forms and documents.

Adobe's earlier server offerings were standalone products obtained through acquisitions that were not designed to interoperate. The company has now redesigned the products to fit on a new J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition) and XML-based architecture. As a result, Adobe's new products fit better into a broader IT infrastructure, Sloan claimed.

Using Java Application Programming Interfaces and web services protocols, Adobe's document services products can be tied to CRM and ERP systems, for example. Adobe is also tuning its software to work with products from SAP and IBM.

Electronic forms are a burgeoning market and Adobe has seen significant growth in the area in the past year, said IDC Research Director Joshua Duhl, adding that moving to a single, Java-based platform will help Adobe further expand its business.

"This is another step in Adobe's progress towards selling more server-side enterprise software. By offering their products on a standards-based architecture, running on application servers in Java they are making their products conform to what is now standard infrastructure for enterprise software," Duhl said.

Adobe is targeting large businesses and the public sector. The US government uses PDF forms heavily within the Internal Revenue Service and for immigration-related functions.

New or recently announced products scheduled to be available tomorrow are Document Security Server, Barcoded Paper Forms Solution and Designer 6.0. Adobe will also release updates of its Form Server and Reader Extensions Server. Form Manager and Policy Server are scheduled to ship later this year.

Document Security Server and Policy Server are products that allow organisations to control access to information, create audit trails of usage records and certify document authenticity with digital signatures. This is to help companies to comply with privacy disclosure and reporting legislation,.

Pricing for Form Server, for deploying dynamic forms, Form Manager, used to publish and manage forms, and Reader Extensions Server, which can unlock hidden features in the Adobe Acrobat reader, starts at $35,000 per processor.

Document Security Server starts at $50,000 per processor and Policy Server pricing has yet to be set.

Joris Evers writes for IDG News Service

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