Marimba releases management software for servers, PCs

Software maker Marimba Inc. announced two management products on Friday: a new program for upgrading software on multiple networked PCs in corporations, and an enhanced version of a tool that tracks and reconfigures sets of servers remotely.

Marimba's Desktop/Mobile Management software, available now, is designed to help system administrators reduce the cost of upgrading computers in the workplace, said Kia Behnia, Marimba's vice president for product marketing. In a company with hundreds or thousands of computers on desktops, upgrading each to Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 2000 or adding software could take a team of administrators weeks, a prospect Marimba's software helps alleviate, he said.

The new product for PC management supports Windows 2000 Active Directory -- an information list about users on the network, the company said. Active Directory support allows administrators to configure software based on the needs of particular groups of users in their profiles.

Marimba's Inventory module for the software -- available in the third quarter -- will allow administrators to audit their computers in order to figure out exactly what software is running on each computer. Marimba expects this feature to appeal to companies concerned about licensing penalties for having too many copies of Windows or other software on their systems, Behnia said.

Network administrators face similar problems configuring banks of servers quickly. The enhanced version of Marimba's Server Management software, available now, uses the Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) standard to automate reconfigurations.

SOAP is a protocol for using extensible markup language (XML) to transfer data. Marimba uses it in its Server Management software to replace software on servers, reconfiguring a mail server into a Web server remotely, for example.

Potentially, it allows administrators to change the look of their server farms on the fly as conditions warrant. It can change a generic set of servers into either Web servers in anticipation of heavy traffic to a site, or database servers if lots of information is needed to be stored and analyzed. Also, the process is done over the Internet using encrypted commands.

"The issue is really one of remote server management. You don't want to have to send people on-site all the time, to fly people to the ends of the earth," said Paul Mason, an analyst with International Data Corp. He cited a large pharmacy chain, Walgreen Co., with two servers in each store -- one for prescriptions and one for billing -- as an example. "If Walgreens wants to change its price list at all its stores, it wants to do it encrypted. Marimba's product was designed for the Internet."

Marimba's President and Chief Executive Officer, John Olsen, resigned on July 9, replaced by Marimba's senior vice president of marketing, Rich Wyckoff.

Pricing of the two new applications was not immediately available.

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