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

One problem with many rights management systems is that they never work with all the applications a company uses to create sensitive content. Liquid Machines Document Control 5.0 is no exception, but it does go a little further than most products of its kind, extending rights management tools to some applications that have previously lacked them and acting as a client for Microsofts RMS.

During tests, we were generally impressed with Document Control 5.0, which was released this month, especially in its flexible management options and unobtrusive but effective client implementation.

Click here to read reviews of three other rights management applications.
The core Document Control Server is Java-based, but it is supported only running on Windows servers. The management console for the Document Control Server is browser-based, and it is easily one of the best, most intuitive management interfaces weve seen in a rights management application. The product easily integrates with LDAP and Active Directory servers, or users can be defined directly on the Document Control Server.

Policies in the Liquid Machines platform are referred to as Business Processes, and they were easily defined in the management interface during our tests. We could create company base-line policies, and we appreciated the sample policies included with the product. Policies are mainly based on roles that administrators define and populate with users or groups. The rights that can be assigned are Read, Write, Print, Assign and Transfer.

Document Control also provided very good tracking and reporting options, letting us view client activity, changes to business processes, and all document and user activity for audit trails.

Client implementation for Version 5.0 of Document Control is similar to that of the previous version, which we reviewed last year. A small window, called a Droplet, is added to the top bar of the content-creation application; users connect to the server to protect documents through this Droplet. This process works well and is unobtrusive, but, as was the case with the older version, only preconfigured policies on the server can be used; users cannot create custom document protections.

The client works with Microsoft Office 2000, XP and 2003; Adobe Acrobat Pro 6.0; and Acrobat Reader 6.0 and 7.0. One welcome addition in this version of Document Control is its support for Visio 2002 and 2003. We were glad to see this because Visio documents are often sensitive in nature.

Also compelling is the fact that the Liquid Machines client works with Microsofts RMS, connecting to an RMS server for policies rather than to the Document Control Server. This makes it possible for companies to use RMS with older versions of Office than the Microsoft solution supports. Integration with RMS also enables ad hoc policies but mainly by using the Microsoft client.

By itself, Liquid Machines Document Control Server does not provide integrated e-mail protection. However, an additional product called Email Control integrates with Microsoft Exchange Server to provide rights management protections for e-mail communications.

The Liquid Machines Document Control Server costs $15,000; client prices range from $10 to $100 per user based on volume, with a minimum 100-user purchase required.

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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