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Success story

Adobe attracts enterprise customers with cloud-based products

Adobe Systems, a long-time user of Red Hat® Enterprise Linux®, wanted to offer its enterprise customers easy access to sandbox resources to evaluate and prototype solutions using Adobe products. Turning to the cloud, Adobe used Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Amazon Web Services (AWS) to not only deliver a sandbox solution, but also to offer customers a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) option for deploying Adobe-based solutions. Today, Adobe is using Red Hat platform and Amazon Web Services to help customers simplify deployment, lower cost of ownership, and accelerate time to value.

Customer Since


San Jose, CA

Technology Industry


Offer Adobe's digital media products to customers using cloud technologies, with subscription-based pricing.



  • Existing Adobe architecture

When we're dealing with a customer, the longest part of the sales cycle is getting the customer comfortable with the security of the platform in the cloud. When we say Red Hat, it clicks with the customer and shuts off half of their security questions.

Mitch Nelson, Director of Managed Services for enterprise, Adobe Systems

Adobe moves software to the cloud

Founded in 1982, Adobe Systems is known for its digital media and marketing solutions including CQ, LiveCycle, Photoshop, and Acrobat. In 2007, Mitch Nelson, an early adopter of cloud computing, became director of managed services for enterprise at Adobe. His first challenge was to enable enterprise customer developers to link easily into the company's LiveCycle sandbox to try Adobe products.

Nelson turned to Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Amazon Web Services (AWS) to solve the problem. "By bringing LiveCycle, Red Hat, and AWS together, we were able to rapidly deploy a sandbox system for developers and get them up and running quickly and easily," said Nelson.

Letting customers get apps by subscription

That was just the beginning. "Once you've done something well, you tend to get more work. The question came up, now that we've built this solution in the cloud, how do we take it from sandbox to production?" Nelson said. Adobe also wanted to offer applications to its customers via a SaaS model. That would let them take advantage of subscription-based pricing, simplified deployments, and scalability. The company also wished to employ an open hybrid cloud model flexible enough to operate both on-premise and in the cloud.

Building products for enterprise customers

Nelson formed a team to supply customers with cloud-based versions of Adobe products that they could customize. Working with Amazon Web Services, in 2008 Adobe helped move the applications into production and managed them going forward. The initial result was Adobe LiveCycle Enterprise Suite (ES3), a service-oriented architecture (SOA) Java EE-based server software product that builds applications to automate business processes for enterprise and government agencies. Later came Adobe CQ, the foundation of the Adobe Experience Manager solution. More applications are on the way.

Leaving flexibility to operate at customer site or in the cloud

Using the Red Hat platform for Adobe's cloud offerings was an obvious choice for Nelson for many reasons. First, Red Hat allows Adobe to employ an open hybrid cloud model. "Red Hat Enterprise Linux is a scalable, consistent platform that gives us the required flexibility to operate in both environments, whether on-premise at a customer site, or in the cloud," said Nelson.

Saving money with one operating system

In addition, being able to standardize on one operating system was a significant advantage. "Red Hat allows us to give our customers a well-known framework to test on their desktops or development systems using the same operating system or product stack all the way up, as they do in the cloud. That saves Adobe two to three million dollars a year, being able to standardize like that and operate in a known framework."

Giving customers confidence in cloud security

In addition, enterprises considering deployment in the cloud with Adobe need assurance that the security is comprehensive. Nelson said he completes client questionnaires with anywhere from 50 to 750 questions designed to understand Adobe's processes, and he can't do enough to explain the secure platform. "When we're dealing with a customer, the longest part of the sales cycle is getting the customer comfortable with the security of the platform in the cloud. When we say Red Hat, it clicks with the customer and shuts off half of their security questions," said Nelson.

Providing a stable operating system

Nelson goes on to cite the stability of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. "We're offering configurations up to a four-nines, cross-geographic high availability environment, and we wouldn't go there if we weren't absolutely confident in our operating system. The stability of every component in the stack becomes critical at that point, and the reliability of Red Hat Enterprise Linux has been rock-solid," said Nelson.

Scaling to meet the need

Finally, the scalability of the Red Hat platform allows Adobe to sense the load on a customer's server and respond appropriately, through either slow or rapid scaling. That brings servers online to handle the load of the day, then shuts them down in the evenings to make them available to other users in the cloud.

Revenue moves from shrink-wrap model to SaaS

Like many Independent Software Vendors (ISVs), Adobe has historically been a purveyor of shrink-wrap software. With the emergence of SaaS, Adobe's customers reap a number of benefits. They get simplified deployment, lower total cost of ownership, on-demand scalability, and accelerated time to value. The SaaS model suits Adobe as well. Revenue shifts from a single transaction to a classic annuity model that offers different revenue opportunities.

Enterprise customers sign up

The partnership with Red Hat and Amazon Web Services has given Adobe dozens of enterprise customers using its cloud-based products and services. Adobe anticipates the number to more than double next year.

"We've gone in directions that were well beyond our initial ideas when we started out. We are now able to work with major enterprises and deploy significant mission-critical parts of their business into a cloud infrastructure with confidence," said Nelson.

Adobe looks for more

Looking forward, Nelson says Adobe Managed Services sees Red Hat as its preferred platform for as many offerings as possible. "We look at Red Hat Enterprise Linux as our deployment operating system of choice and look to move as many of our solutions onto that platform as possible, if they're not there already," said Nelson.

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