Adobe introduces new server-based software

Adobe Systems Inc. introduced Adobe Acrobat Elements Server on Monday, a product that was designed to give customers server-based control over its portable document format (PDF) applications.

The new product will put deployment and maintenance control in the hands of IT managers, who will then be able to centrally deploy PDF files without having to manage the application on individual desktops, according to Marty Krasilczuk, senior product manager of Adobe’s intelligent documents business unit in Ottawa.

IT administrators will be given a number of different methods, including Web and e-mail submissions, to convert their common file types into PDFs, the company said.

However, Tim Hickernell, vice-president at Meta Group in Chicago said he is warning his clients about the implications of choosing the e-mail submission pathway.

Hinkernell said that by choosing e-mail, there will be many more file binary attachments in the users e-mail storage, and for some corporations, e-mail inbox size is still an issue.

“They may instead opt for the Web submission where you just upload a file to a Web page and then check the output page and you get your PDF back,” Hickernell said.

He noted that Monday’s announcement falls in line with the company’s vision of creating an enterprise software strategy that it began last year when it acquired Canadian electronic form maker Accelio Corp.

He added that Adobe’s new Elements Server is “a much more robust product” than its predecessor, the Acrobat Distiller Server, which takes post-script files to create PDF files. The limitation of the Distiller Server, he said, “is that you couldn’t really achieve maximum reduction in TCO (total cost of ownership) because you still had to maintain a post-script driver or a printer driver on every desktop that wanted to use the product. Plus, Distiller only took post-script, whereas this server will take other common office file formats.”

Instead of being a replacement for the desktop version of the product, Hickernell said the Elements Server edition is going to be a complementary or hybrid product.

“Users that are fixed within the enterprise, in an office location might be given access to the centralized elements server for PDF creation but the enterprise may still have a significant mobile workforce which requires potentially offline PDF creation,” Hickernell said. “[In this] case the enterprise may still roll out either the Elements desktop product or one of the other Adobe Acrobat products that allow you to create PDFs.”

Adobe also said that by using a Web services application programming interface (API) its new Acrobat Elements Server can be integrated into more complex document creations which are personalized to the needs of different organizations.

Krasilczuk said that a pilot program for the Elements server started last May and involved users from the two groups that are being targeted with this product: large enterprises and independent software vendors (ISVs).

The centralized Elements Server is a natural compliment to Adobe’s PDF creation capabilities because it allows IT managers to exercise some reduction of TCO, Meta Group’s Hickernell said. This is because it is a lot cheaper to maintain and deploy the applications from one centralized location than it is to maintain separate desktop clients.

The company’s new Elements Server supports Adobe PDF conversion from Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint as well as Corel WordPerfect and Adobe PhotoShop.

The Elements Server is expected to begin shipping by the end of November and carries a price tag starting at US$28 per user with a 1,000-user minimum, or US$22,500 per server. The new software will only be available in English.

Adobe made headlines last week when it announced that it had acquired the technology assets of Vancouver-based Yellow Dragon Software. Adobe said it purchased the extensible markup language (XML) messaging and metadata management software firm to further strengthen its XML architecture. It is planning to integrate Yellow Dragon’s technology into its server products next year.

Adobe also announced last week that it has cut 100 jobs from its 3,500-person workforce. Eilenne Foley, an Adobe spokesperson in Ottawa, said the cuts have affected workers in the company’s San Jose, Seattle and Ottawa offices.

She added that although specific numbers aren’t being released, the company’s Ottawa offices have been “least affected by the layoffs.”

Foley said Adobe has no future plans of further layoffs before the end of the year.

Additional information on Adobe’s Elements Server can be found online at