Adobe to unveil new document services platform

Adobe Systems plans to introduce a new Java-based server platform that is designed to help automate and accelerate the flow of information in an organization using Portable Document Format (PDF) documents.

At the same time it unveils the platform, Adobe plans to introduce several new and updated products that take advantage of the new technology. All products are part of Adobe's Intelligent Document Platform, a plan to make PDF with Extensible Markup Language (XML) additions a common way to get data in and out of enterprise systems.

Using Adobe's products, organisations can automatically process data sent in PDF forms, so there's no need to re-enter the information into their own systems. Data from those systems can be also displayed in a PDF file.

Adobe's pitch rivals Microsoft's XML plans for Office and InfoPath and competes with products from smaller vendors.

"We have a single way to connect to all the different data sources in an enterprise," a group product marketing manager at Adobe, Sydney Sloan, said.

End-users already interacted with many back-end systems through forms and documents, Sloan said.

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 Java 2 Enterprise Edition- and XML-based architecture.

As a result, Adobe's new products fit better into a broader IT infrastructure, Sloan said.

Using Java Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and Web services protocols, Adobe's document services products can be tied to customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, for example.

Adobe is also tuning its software to work with products from SAP and IBM.

Electronic forms were a burgeoning market and Adobe had seen significant growth in the area in the past year, IDC research director, Joshua Duhl, said.

Moving to a single, Java-based platform would help it further expand its business, he said.

"This is another step in Adobe's progress towards selling more server-side enterprise software," Duhl said. "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."

Adobe is targeting its products at large businesses as well as the public sector.

The US government uses PDF forms heavily within the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and for immigration-related functions.

New or recently announced products scheduled to be available are Document Security Server, Barcoded Paper Forms Solution and Designer 6.0.

Adobe also plans to release updates of its Form Server and Reader Extensions Server.

Scheduled to ship later this year were Form Manager and Policy Server, Adobe said.

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