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Marimba's Embedded Makeover

Marimba, Inc. , the Mountain View, Calif.-based provider of e-business change management solutions, today announced the extension of two of its product families serving both independent software vendor (ISV) and the device and information appliance markets.

ISV Solutions and Device/Appliance Management will fall under Marimba's embedded technology solutions line of business. The new packaged solutions will allow vendors, including Intel, Marimba's latest customer win, in both markets to more easily distribute, update, and manage software through its embedded capabilities.

"What we're doing here is leveraging our core competencies of distribution and updating in our primary desktop management business, and taking it in a focused way to new platforms," explains Michael Hughes, vice president of Marimba's embedded management products.

Marimba has been developing products in both markets for three years but Hughes says for the last five months the firm has decided to package this existing software and deliver new versions specifically for the two markets.

In the device and appliance space, Marimba argues that ease of use is a competitive advantage as vendors cannot rely on an end-user to function as a systems administrator. Marimba's management solution allows device vendors to deliver and install OS updates, patches, and firmware updates via the Internet once customer have purchased the device.

"As we move to a pervasive world, where devices become self-sustaining appliances, the ability to transparently deliver updates and provide self-healing technology will become critical," says Jack Gold, vice president, META group.

For Intel the support of its AnyPoint product line, a family of high-speed networking products providing connectivity and shared Internet access for home and home office users, is most welcome says Nelson Yaple, director of engineering for Intel's Residential Access Division.

Hughes says to have Intel on board as a customer is important in making the firm feel good about what it is doing: "At this time it's exciting for us to re-enter the device market place with a client such as Intel, it's also easier to feel confident about their opportunity for success given their size," he explains.

According to Duncan Gray, group technology director, Leisure Link, Marimba's other device appliance customer, it is increasingly important to provide content updates, and new games to the consumer: "Previously, the only way to do this was to physically remove and replace machines when the content became outdated," he says.

Hughes argues that other benefits of the management solutions include support cost reductions. Gold says that somewhere between 35 percent and 50 percent of customer service calls are a result of users employing devices without current releases of firmware or software applications.

He explains that as soon as a customer buys the device, once connected, it automatically looks for updates: "Software is continually updated while the vendor can still get their products immediately out on the market," he says.

Marimba's ISV Solutions customers can also reap these benefits says Fabio Angelillis executive vice president of engineering at KANA, Marimba's new customer in the ISV market: "Having the ability to virtually eliminate the shipping of thousands of CDs to enterprise customers is a significant cost savings for us," he says, adding that the firm is expecting that the new delivery of updates will increase the firm's user-adoption success rate.

For ISVs, alternative solutions have been ruled out: "Initially, we considered developing a management infrastructure to update our software," says Raul Diaz, vice president of business development at InterVideo. "However, we needed to scale to millions of users and focus on our strengths to get our products to market faster," he adds, explaining that Marimba has saved the firm time and money in the engineering process.

"In today's market, we are able to differentiate ourselves by growing and adding targeted products for ISVs and device/appliance vendors, products that leverage our existing Change Management expertise in the server and desktop/mobile markets," says Rich Wyckoff, president and CEO of Marimba, Inc.

While Hughes admits that Marimba's embedded solution products only account for five to eight percent of the firm's business, he is expecting it to become a growth area arguing that an increasing amount of people are using software devices and are used to getting software updates over the Web.

Fred Broussard, senior research analyst at IDC in Framingham, Mass., concurs: "With the advent of the Internet, software users have become accustomed to getting the latest, most feature-rich software at the click of a button. That trend toward instant service will continue," he says.