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IBM, Adobe Lock in Partnership for Document Services

IBM has joined forces with Adobe Systems Monday in a partnership to create software and services that will help customers digitize document creation and dissemination.

The agreement goes beyond a previous technology alliance between the two companies, in which the two teamed up on digital encryption, adding joint sales and marketing of document services to corporate customers.

Armonk, N.Y.'s IBM said it would integrate San Jose, Calif.-based Adobe's document services with IBM software, beginning with IBM DB2 Content Manager and DB2 CommonStore for SAP, and moving on to IBM's WebSphere and Tivoli software brands. The idea is to enable document services to work with on-demand computing environments, which is currently IBM's company-wide, bread-and-butter pitch.

The news comes at a time when content management is in the limelight thanks to EMC's move to purchase Documentum last Tuesday for $1.7 billion. The blockbuster bid highlighted the importance content management bodes for the enterprise, as EMC is looking to combine CM with storage to enable companies to manage their content from its inception until its disposal.

This push was accelerated by the increasing deluge of corporate-oriented data and the emergence of new corporate regulations, such as Sarbanes-Oxley and HIPPA. Rivals EMC and IBM are expected to battle fiercely for storage market share through their combination of storage and ECM.

The move also comes at a time as Microsoft, Adobe and the W3C are girding for standards concerning Web forms that improve business processes. Adobe does this via its personal document format (PDF) file system, while Microsoft will issue its own forms program in Office tomorrow. W3C last week topped off its standard, XForms.

In the first phase of the pact, Adobe Form Server, Form Designer and Reader have been added to IBM DB2 Content Manager, allowing enterprises to create, manage and process forms automatically within DB2 Content Manager environments.

The mortgage application, often a tedious, paper-ridden task, is one example where IBM and Adobe software combined can create great savings of time and money. In the mortgage a wealth of information is captured, duplicated and communicated on paper. Using IBM DB2 Content Manager middleware, Adobe Reader and PDF as the electronic format for delivering a mortgage agreement, the process can be completed on and off line, cutting costs incurred from document processing, storage and retrieval.

This relationship opens up the possibility of a larger customer base for Adobe because of IBM's broad placement in the industry and expands IBM's enterprise content management (ECM) capabilities. IBM will now be able to automate CM in its content management middleware, a concept that dovetails nicely with its on-demand strategy, according to Steve Mills, IBM senior vice president and Group Executive, IBM Software.

"Adobe's server products and PDF technologies, along with the over half a billion copies of the Adobe Reader distributed around the world, make Adobe an important partner for developing solutions to manage business content in an on-demand environment," Mills said in a statement.

In related news, Adobe inked a strategic alliance with Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), in which TCS will integrate and resell Adobe products as part of their enterprise offerings. In the deal, for which financial terms were not made public, TCS will sell Adobe products as part of its own offering and will provide customer support.