Adobe’s New LiveCycle Ststem

Adobe Systems announced Monday that an update to LiveCycle, its document-based workflow system, is being developed.  The new LiveCycle ES2, for Enterprise Suite, will be accessible from smartphones, as well as being hostable in the Amazon computing cloud.

LiveCycle ES2 will also have the new advantage of LiveCycle Mosaic, a portal-esque technology that uses “tiles,” or a series of desktop windows.  The purpose for the tiles is to allow employees to customize their digital workspace with instantly-available contextual data and processes from back-end systems.

Adobe will unveil its new product at Monday’s Adobe Max conference in Los Angeles.  John Knightley, Adobe’s enterprise marketing VP, says the ES2 software will release later in 2009, and be capable of hosting Amazon Web Services production in early 2010.

The construction of LiveCycle ES is a collection of server-based tools for generating automated workflow processes.  PDF documents that can straddle firewalls will be among ES2’s arsenal.  Among the possibilities for the system will be the ability for banks to design an interactive form that will not only assist customers in completing an online loan application, but will initiate a domino-relay of systems to evaluate, then accept or reject the loan.

Manufacturing, government, and financial services organizations make up the base of five thousand customers that Adobe is projecting.  Its main competitors include IBM WebSphere and Microsoft SharePoint, in addition to some of EMC’s products.  LiveCycle ES2 may provide a necessary windfall for Adobe, with the slippage in sales of creative products that Adobe has suffered during the recession.

Back in January, Adobe opened LiveCycle processes for development and testing in the Amazon cloud.  Though at the time of this writing it is still impossible to deploy production applications, that option will likely be available in early 2010.  Instances of ES2 will be preconfigured on Adobe, through Amazon servers, with provided support and monitoring services all day, 24/7.  The price of subscriptions will be revealed next year.

LiveCycle Mosaic, another feature being unveiled by Adobe, presents a composite Rich internet Application.  The RIA will enable users to custom-construct their own workspace, displaying data that pertains to their current task.  For instance, a fund manager could display tiles that show a client’s investment history and portfolio, with current stock prices in another web application and tile.  The browser uses Flash Player, displaying data gotten from back-end systems with the aid of LiveCycle Data Services.  Alternatively, data can be shown on the desktop using Adobe Air.

The technology has been adapted to smartphones with the LiveCycle Workspace ES2 Mobile application.  This makes LiveCycle available as a native front-end to a Blackberry, iPhone, or Windows Mobile device.  Among the many uses Knightley proposes for this application is the ability for a hiring manager to approve a new employee by signing the hiring document on the mobile device.  LiveCycle would then initiate processes to provision the new hire with an office, computer, and other necessaries.  Flash capabilities have also been updated for PDF files, which makes it possible for companies to send clients documents with embedded video.

Bank Midwest has been using LiveCycle in its existing version since 2006, according to application development and integration manager Josh Laire. He is excited about the release of ES2 because the new model driven development environment it contains will allow Bank Midwest’s developers to create business processes with a great deal less code.

LiveCycle saves the company a great deal of paper, as well as time, and its functions include the automation of internal processes like debit card ordering.  The software’s cross-platform capabilities was a major draw for the bank, since its browser-based nature makes it compatible with Mac, Windows, and Linux operating systems.  At the back end, Laire praises LiveCycle for its ability to work with a variety of different back-end application servers and databases.

Abode’s main hurdle in guiding LiveCycle toward commercial success is its prevailing image to some CIOs as “merely” a creative tools company.  The magnitude of thios challenge has lessened as their office brand becomes more well known, but their market profile remains much smaller than the established names of Microsoft, IBM, and Oracle.

LiveCycle is available with pricing per user, per CPU, or per document, with deployments being marketed at a starting price of $50,000 at the department level.  At the level of company-wide installations for large companies, deployment can scale into the millions.

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