Adobe Eases Deployment with New Release of LiveCycle Suite
June 17, 2008 Alex Woodie
Adobe Systems today is expected to ship a new release of LiveCycle Enterprise Suite (ES), a collection of software aimed replacing paper-based processes with PDFs and other electronic forms of communication. With LiveCycle ES Update 1, the company is now including an enterprise content management (ECM) with the suite, which should speed the deployment of rich Internet applications based on Adobe’s Flash technology. New solution accelerators and support for three-dimensional PDFs for engineering documents round out this release.
LiveCycle ES is Adobe’s integrated suite of J2EE software that blends electronic forms, process management, document security, and document generation, with the goal of helping customers create and deliver applications that reduce paperwork, accelerate decision-making, and help ensure regulatory compliance, particularly in the financial services, government, life sciences, and manufacturing industries.
LiveCycle was created in 2004 as an amalgamation of several products Adobe acquired over the years, including the Accelio/Jetform document management software that supported and ran on the AS/400. LiveCycle maintains that legacy connection to the OS/400 platform and its popular ERP applications, and as a Java program, will also run on the platform.
Adobe sells two pre-packaged versions of LiveCycle ES, including an entry-level Data Capture edition, and a more advanced Business Transformation edition. The Data Capture edition includes the core elements needed to help a customer develop a customized application for capturing data and delivering it to users, partners, and suppliers. The Business Transformation is aimed at orchestrating human-facing processes, protecting sensitive information, and generating personalized documents. It includes all of the components included in Data Capture, plus several more.
With 2007’s launch of LiveCycle ES, Adobe introduced a new way for customers to interact with the software, using Flash-based rich Internet applications (or RIAs, using the Web 2.0 terminology of the day). RIAs are designed to close what Adobe calls the “engagement gap” on the end user side, and provide users with a more pleasing way to fill out forms and communicate information. Not that PDFs are painful or difficult to use. But Adobe found that Flash provided an ideal mechanism for making it easy and (dare we say) fun to use the computer again. Flash-based RIAs provide enticing eye-candy, while the underlying LiveCycle software ensures that the proper information is collected, the fields get filled out, and the work gets done.
Flash provided a quantum leap in the quality of end-user interaction. But Adobe found that some LiveCycle customers were still not utilizing the full breadth of the suite’s collaboration capabilities. In its most powerful form, LiveCycle must be paired with an ECM system, such as EMC‘s Documentum or IBM‘s FileNet software, to power the business processes and the workflows that underlie the collaborative decision-making activities at large organizations.
“While some of the customers have used those capabilities, a large percentage of our customers were not doing that,” says Raja Hammoud, product marketing manager in Adobe’s enterprise and developer business unit. “We found customers were simply building their own user interfaces and backend applications to manage all of that content. When we asked them why they were doing that and not using ECM, some said they didn’t have ECM, some said they had ECM but it was too hard to use or deploy, and some said it was too expensive to extent their ECM.”
It was clear that Adobe needed to address their customers’ needs differently. Since Adobe has no control over EMC, IBM, or the other major ECM makers, the company decided to offer its own ECM. Instead of building a new ECM system from scratch, which would take years, Adobe decided to partner with Alfresco, an up-and-coming developer of open source ECM software, and to bundle a version of the Alfresco ECM with LiveCycle.
With Alfresco driving the back-end database via an optional add-on called Content Services, LiveCycle ES suddenly gains the power it needs to integrate information capture and forms processing with the business process workflow of a particular customer. Extending these large and complicated multi-step business processes to suppliers, customers, or distributors at scale is now feasible, without calling in IBM Global Services to hook LiveCycle to FileNet.
Pricing for the Content Services ES component is $25,000 per CPU, or $125 per user with a minimum of 100 users.
Another new addition to LiveCycle is support for three dimensional PDFs. With this release, users can now install the optional PDF Generator 3D ES component, which allows CAD users and engineering teams to create and share three dimensional PDFs. Pricing for the PDF Generator 3D ES component is $60,000 per CPU, or $300 per user with a minimum of 100 users.
Adobe also announced Solution Accelerators for helping to speed the roll-outs of the LiveCycle software for certain cases. The company introduced two types of accelerators, the Enrollment Solution Accelerator and the Correspondence Management Solution Accelerator, which are applicable to financial services organizations and government entities.
Other enhancements with Update 1 include support for the latest Adobe clients, including Reader 9, Acrobat 9, Flex 3, and Adobe AIR. The software’s form-design components also includes new record and playback and process-validation functionality, while its core Foundation tools have been enhanced with new deployment, backup, and single sign-on capabilities.
Most of LiveCycle ES Update 1 is expected to ship in July 2008. The two Solution Accelerators are expected to ship later this summer. The LiveCycle ES Content Services ES component is priced at $25,000 per CPU, or $125 per user with a minimum of 100 users. For more information, visit www.adobe.com/livecycle.