Adobe tomorrow will introduce a new Java-based server platform designed to help automate and accelerate the flow of information in an organization using PDF (Portable Document Format) 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 XML (Extensible Markup Language) additions a common way to get data in and out of enterprise systems.

Using Adobe's products, organizations can automatically process data sent in PDF forms, so there's no need to re-enter the information into their own systems. Also, data from those systems can be displayed in a PDF. 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," said Sydney Sloan, a group product marketing manager at Adobe. End users already interact with many back-end systems through forms and documents, he said.

Adobe's earlier server offerings were stand-alone 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 said.

Using Java APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) and Web services protocols, Adobe's document services products can be tied to CRM (customer relationship management) and ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems, for example. Also, Adobe is tuning its software to work with products from SAP and IBM.

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

"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 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 on Tuesday 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 are Form Manager and Policy Server, Adobe said.

Document Security Server and Policy Server are products that allow organizations 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, Adobe said.

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, Adobe said.

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