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February 15, 2013

Taking Our Own Medicine: Deploying Adobe Acrobat XI at Adobe

Just like other large organizations, Adobe, with over 11,000 employees worldwide, has requirements and challenges when deploying new software. Adobe’s IT department began deployment of Acrobat XI within 48 hours of its release back in October of 2012. Talk about a challenge! Fortunately, thanks to resources like these on the Acrobat Solutions for IT pages, they were prepared and shared some of their experiences with the Acrobat team.

Adobe IT began testing of Acrobat XI during the pre-release phase with approximately 1,000 employees worldwide and some pre-release volunteers. The test plan was focused on making sure that the previous version uninstalled properly, and that Acrobat could be used successfully for day-to-day tasks, such as accessing documents stored in enterprise systems, completing and submitting forms, and participating in shared reviews.

A big part of preparing to deploy any software application is the customization of the installer, and Acrobat XI is no different. Adobe IT had requirements around customizing the installation that included applications and document security settings, such as rights management and Protected View, and a desire to make the install smoother and faster for all users. The deployment of Acrobat XI at Adobe translated to approximately 9,500 systems, with almost half of them on Mac. Adobe IT made the decision to use SCCM for Windows deployments and Casper from JAMF software for Mac deployments.

How was the customization done? With the Adobe Customization Wizard. Most customization decisions were made based on previous installations. This included using the company wide serial number, setting Acrobat as the default PDF viewer, disabling registration, and customizing the User Name and Organization. Another important customization was to include the Adobe Addressbook and Directory Acrodata files. Adobe IT teams from across the world worked together to create and test the installation packages. In addition to deploying straight to desktops, an installation needed to be created for Adobe’s Citrix XenApp environment for those users who prefer or need to run internal applications virtually via Citrix Receiver.

Within six weeks of deployment, Acrobat XI was installed to over 85% of machines within Adobe. Adobe IT is very pleased with the deployment and directly attributes this to the installation speed. Migrating from Acrobat 8 to 9 took about 45 minutes to install, while the Acrobat XI migration took only 4-5 minutes. Another positive is that they have had no significant support issues with Acrobat XI.

When asked what they would do differently, Adobe IT states that getting familiar with the customization settings during the testing prior to release would have made things even easier. Doing so would have also given them a greater appreciation for installation dependencies of other applications. Did anything impact the deployment schedules? Only a small number of stubborn users who declined to upgrade right away or refused to restart their Windows machine so SCCM could do its work.

The deployment of Acrobat XI within Adobe was a big success due to the hard work of Adobe IT. Their focus on testing the prerelease and customizing the installation led to a quick deployment with minimal issues. If you need help with deployment of Acrobat XI, everything you need to know is located right here: http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/it-resources.html. It’s like having the Acrobat team right by your side!

Lisa Croft, product  marketing manager, Acrobat Solutions

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