By Jim Rapoza  |  Posted 2005-06-27 Print this article Print

During tests, we had a love-hate relationship with Adobes LiveCycle Policy Server 7.01, which was released in April.

We loved that LiveCycle Policy Server offers cross-platform client capabilities—it was the only product we tested that did—but we hated that the product works only with Acrobat 7.0. On the server side, we loved how easy it was to integrate external workers into the rights management system, but we hated how needlessly difficult it was to tie LiveCycle Policy Server in to internal user directories.

Still, once some of the integration hassles are overcome, and if a company is mainly interested in controlling the flow of PDFs created in Acrobat 7.0, LiveCycle Policy Server will be a good solution. It has solid management tools on the server side; broad policy options; and detailed rights restrictions for controlling how PDFs are edited, viewed and distributed.

Click here to read reviews of three other rights management applications. LiveCycle Policy Server is a Java-server-based application that works with most leading application servers and database platforms. We quickly had the server up and running in our tests, and the simple but attractive browser-based administration interface made it simple to define most management settings.

"Most" is the operative term here, however. Users can be added to LiveCycle Policy Server in only two ways: either invited as external users or as part of an internal company directory with which the server synchronizes. LiveCycle Policy Server doesnt maintain its own user database.

LiveCycle Policy Server does support standard LDAP directories and Microsofts Active Directory; hooking into either requires editing XML configuration files, defining authentication applications and filling out several detailed LDAP statements in a Web form. This is par for the course for administrators used to working with pure LDAP directories, but the process may prove difficult for Active Directory administrators used to simpler GUI-based integration tools.

On the other hand, LiveCycle Policy Server is simple to manage and configure. From the management interface, we could create and manage document watermarks (which take the form of user credentials or custom text), define audit and privacy settings, and perform basic server configurations. A simple but capable form, for example, let us define a variety of rights policies for our company that set time limits for documents validity. We could also control how documents protected with this policy were viewed.

We especially liked the products external-user feature, which made it possible to send an invitation e-mail to users outside our corporate directory that would let the users activate an account to protect and access content within LiveCycle Policy Server. We could also control the rights of external users.

On the client side, we could connect to LiveCycle Policy Server by entering the servers settings in the Security Settings option under Acrobat 7.0s Advanced menu. When we then clicked on the Security button in Acrobat, we could use LiveCycle Policy Server to control who could access the Acrobat-created content, when content would be valid, the level of encryption used, whether printing would be allowed and what quality the printing would be, and whether the recipient could make changes and what level of changes the recipient could make.

Pricing for Adobe LiveCycle Policy Server starts at $40,000, which includes 500 users at $80 each.

Next page: Evaluation Shortlist: Related Products.

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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