Adobe LiveCycle takes to the cloud

By Paul Krill, InfoWorld |  Development, Adobe, Amazon EC2

Adobe is putting its LiveCycle package for building PDF applications into the cloud.

With Adobe LiveCycle ES (Enterprise Suite) Developer Express software, members of the Adobe Enterprise Developer Program can access LiveCycle capabilities in the cloud via the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) and Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3).

[ Read more about the emerging world of cloud computing in InfoWorld's special report ]

Developers gain a virtual, self-contained development environment to develop and test LiveCycle ES applications without the need to install and configure Adobe LiveCycle ES, Adobe said. Deployment of these applications, however, still will require purchase of runtime licenses.

LiveCycle ES is a server-based offering combining data capture, document output, process management, and content services. It draws on PDF, Adobe Reader, and Flash in the creation and distribution of documents. Applications can run in a disconnected mode via the reader.

"[LiveCycle is] the way that enterprises can work with the Adobe Reader structure that's ubiquitous on everyone's desktop," said Mitch Nelson, director of marketing in the business productivity unit at Adobe.

Rich Internet applications also are supported via LiveCycle. Adobe's Flex technology for Web applications is featured in the reader runtime for writing Flex applications within a PDF document.

"LiveCycle automates those inside/outside the firewall processes, those 'document-intensive' business processes where someone needs to fill out a form or sign a document, and send it back," analyst Melissa Webster of IDC said. "Those processes are a challenge to automate, as every time we go in and out of paper, it's a labor-intensive document routing and data entry process."

The main users of Adobe's cloud development environment for LiveCycle "likely will be enterprises that need to automate those inside/outside firewall processes -- the customer-oriented processes that are revenue-generating," Webster said.

With the cloud setup, applications are preconfigured to run server instances on the Amazon EC2 server. This reduces time to boot new server instances, according to the company. Developers gain a "sandbox in the sky" for rolling out LiveCycle ES applications, Adobe claimed. "You've got a clean sandbox running there in 10 minutes," Nelson said. Applications can be built such as tax forms.

Membership in the developer program costs US$1,500 per year. Adobe is not, however, offering the ability to take work developed in the cloud and roll it into full production in the cloud. Developers can deploy via an on-premise server or an Adobe-hosted server. Starter projects with LiveCycle start in the $75,000 to $100,000 range. 

Previously under the developer program, developers had rights to do development work with LiveCycle but had to manage it on-premise, supporting components such as an operating system and application server. These requirements go away with the cloud-based effort.

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