Adobe looks to add Flash

Macromedia's Flash Platform enables building of Web applications

Before Adobe Systems announced plans to acquire Macromedia, each company had been trying to strengthen its federal market presence. They can now combine their strengths to appeal to federal customers as one company.

Each company brings popular software to the merger — Macromedia produces Flash and Adobe offers PDF products.

Macromedia introduced Flash Platform earlier this month. The company's popular Flash software is best known as a tool for providing video content on Web sites. The company is touting Flash Platform as a tool for developing Web applications and delivering media content across a variety of browsers, operating systems and devices.

Meanwhile, Adobe has been encouraging the expansion of PDF products with new versions tailored to uses such as data archiving.

Build on the platform

Flash Platform is a foundation on which other solutions can be built, said Stephen Elop, president and chief executive officer of Macromedia.

He said Flash Platform could be an ideal solution for the federal enterprise architecture initiative, because it can extract data from existing systems without requiring agencies to re-design and replace their back-end architecture.

There are many plans to consolidate the wide range of systems in use, he said, adding that such projects often take years to complete.

Elop will become president of worldwide field operations at Adobe when the merger closes, which is expected this fall.

Macromedia established a government office about 18 months ago, Elop said. The education market accounts for about 25 percent of the company's revenue, and the office is growing rapidly, he said.

"Government, largely because the federal enterprise architecture is taking shape ... is in the position where they can take advantage" of the Flash Platform, he said.

Eliot Christian, manager of data and information systems at the U.S. Geological Survey and an enterprise architecture champion, said successful approaches to making systems more interoperable will involve some measure of pooling data into a common display. Rebuilding the entire infrastructure is not a viable approach, he said.

"We'll never have that opportunity," he said. "You can change some things in the environment, but it is so complex that you really just can't get there."

Adobe is basing its government marketing less on the technology message and more on business processes, said Bobby Caudill, senior solutions architect in Adobe's Worldwide Government Markets division. Adobe seeks to support e-government efforts, such as gathering tax revenues or administering benefits, he said.

The combined company offers a strong proposition, said Christopher Baum, a vice president and research area director at Gartner.

"What we're looking at here is ubiquity," Baum said. "What they have going for them is that Flash is available freely and widely. When you couple that with ... the ubiquity of the Acrobat reader, you have a couple of packages that are pretty widespread."

People don't need to see much of the information generated by computers today because it's machine-to-machine, Baum said. But data requiring human interaction needs more attention, he added.

"That's where visual presentation technologies" come into play, Baum said. "We need to get rid of the concept of data ownership in government. We need to start fostering the idea of data stewardship. That's a different concept. It's a matter of taking care of the data for someone else. These kinds of integrative technologies are the key to that long term."

Flashed

Macromedia's Flash Platform includes:

  • Flash Player for displaying content.
  • Flex for developing Internet applications.
  • Flash MX 2004 for creating interactive content.
  • Flash Communication Server for two-way video streaming.
  • FlashCast for delivering mobile content.
  • Breeze for delivering online content.
  • Flash Lite client for mobile devices.

Source: Macromedia

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