Marimba targets service providers with new management tools

Marimba Inc. this month announced a new family of performance-management software products designed to monitor the performance of on-line applications and services. In addition, Marimba announced that its existing Castanet and Timbale products will be enhanced and re-branded.

The first product from the performance-management family is the Marimba Web Traffic Monitor, which is scheduled to be released in July, said Kia Behnia, Marimba’s vice-president of product management. The software, which must be loaded on its own Intel Corp.-based Windows NT server on the network, provides a real-time view of the performance and availability of the Web-enabled services and applications, including metrics to measure service-level agreements. It allows the system administrator to react to performance downgrades and better the on-line services.

“Where Marimba is trying to go with this is to get an overall quality of service across the Internet and network, from the end user to application and back again to the end user,” said Tim Grieser, research director in enterprise systems management software for International Data Corp.

Marimba Web Traffic Monitor is designed for large corporations, service providers and Web hosters. It allows users to passively monitor real and simulated Web-based transactions. The passive monitoring mechanism puts no load on the network. Marimba’s Web Traffic Monitor will use XML (eXtensible Markup Language)/HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) protocols and transport methods, the company said.

The Web Traffic Monitor will take measurements from the network and look at the packet streams and then reconstruct them into messages and records on performance and traffic rates, Grieser said. The object is to look at the Internet services and monitor particular Internet protocols like HTTP, DNS (Domain Name System) and TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) for performance and error rates, Grieser said.

Several vendors, such as BMC Software, Computer Associates International Inc., Tivoli Systems Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. are attacking the same problem in their own way, Grieser said. These companies focus largely on the internal diagnosis of the network, while KeyNote Systems Inc. and Mercury Interactive Corp. focus more on performance outside the firewall, Grieser said.

Pilot pricing for Marimba’s Web Traffic Monitor begins at US$25,000 and varies based on network configuration, Marimba said.

With its Castanet and Timbale products, Marimba is announcing that it will phase out the two product names during the next two months. Marimba decided it was too small a company for sub-brand names and the names were too confusing for analysts and users, Behnia said. The products will be enhanced with new features and will now be referred to by the management area they support under the broad umbrella of Change Management products. The products will service the server management, desktop/mobile management and embedded management markets.

The current Castanet software is able to deliver, update, manage and repair applications on workstations, PCs and end-user mobile devices across intranets, extranets and the Internet. Timbale, meanwhile, offers content replication and control over how and when content and applications are distributed and activated across Microsoft Corp. Windows NT and Unix server environments.

With the server management software, Marimba will enhance its current capabilities by the second quarter of the year. Those enhancements include:

— delegating administrative roles to allow multiple administrators to manage operational tasks and server deployments;

— offering support for SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol), which was developed by Microsoft Corp. and others, to exchange information in a decentralized, distributed environment;

— integrating modules with existing IT infrastructure components such as load balancers and caching servers/appliances;

— and adding support for the collection of Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) data to provide detailed system information to track server hardware and software configurations.

Pricing for Marimba’s Change Management product families begins at US$30,000 and varies based on number of end-points and the network configuration, the Mountain View, Calif. company said.

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