By Jim Rapoza  |  Posted 2004-04-26 Print this article Print

Liquid Machines 2.1 provides solid digital rights management capabilities and will meet the needs of most businesses that are concerned about how documents are being created, shared and distributed.

Using the very good policy and role management features in the eponymous product from Liquid Machines Inc., eWEEK Labs was able to quickly build a fairly complex, flexible DRM infrastructure to control creation and distribution of documents. Liquid Machines 2.1, which shipped earlier this month, can manage content created in Adobe Systems Inc.s Acrobat and Microsoft Corp.s Office 2000 and later out of the box, and the products API enables integration with other client applications.

The management side of Liquid Machines is clearly its strongest point. We easily created a variety of rights and usage policies and deployed them in numerous ways.

Liquid Machines requires Active Directory and supports only Microsofts directory server for directory integration. Future versions of the product will support other user directories, officials said.

For a look at a DRM solution that can integrate with other user directories, click here. The Liquid Machines server runs only on Windows Server 2000; the clients run on Windows 2000 or XP. Prices range from $50 to $100 per user license, based on volume.

The Liquid Machines server is administered from the very capable browser-based management interface. From here, we could define our base-line policy, create new policies and roles, access reports, and add users and groups. We could create individual custom users or pull users directly from Active Directory.

Although the Active Directory integration worked well, we could synchronize Liquid Machines with Active Directory only by manually hitting a button. We would have liked the option of scheduling synchronizations.

Creating policies and roles for those policies was a simple matter—and one of the best weve seen in this type of application. We could easily create policies and roles, assign users, and delegate management for these policies. It also was possible to provide varying levels of rights to users, from the ability to transfer content to mandatory policies that would automatically be applied for certain users.

The Liquid Machines client must be deployed to each user system. Once its deployed, users wont have to do much more than access a simple drop-down menu, including the policies they have access to when creating a document. A client console application makes it possible to test the connection to the server or to offer alternate log-on credentials for outside collaborators.

We would like to see the option for users to create ad hoc policies for unique documents, a capability found in rival products.

eWEEK Labs Director Jim Rapoza can be reached at jim_rapoza@ziffdavis.com.

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Jim Rapoza, Chief Technology Analyst, eWEEK.For nearly fifteen years, Jim Rapoza has evaluated products and technologies in almost every technology category for eWEEK. Mr RapozaÔÇÖs current technology focus is on all categories of emerging information technology though he continues to focus on core technology areas that include: content management systems, portal applications, Web publishing tools and security. Mr. Rapoza has coordinated several evaluations at enterprise organizations, including USA Today and The Prudential, to measure the capability of products and services under real-world conditions and against real-world criteria. Jim Rapoza's award-winning weekly column, Tech Directions, delves into all areas of technologies and the challenges of managing and deploying technology today.

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