Tech Industry

Marimba: Everywhere you want to be

The "push" technology outfit announces a software development kit, PublishNow, to help other software companies embed Marimba's Castanet technology.

SAN FRANCISCO--Like a lot of Internet companies, Marimba's unofficial motto could be "ubiquity now, standards later."

Today, the up-and-coming "push" technology company announced a software development kit, PublishNow, that will make it easier for other software companies to embed Marimba's Castanet technology in their products. This spring, Marimba will take its strategy a step further by giving its valuable but proprietary developer APIs (application programming interfaces) to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), a Net standards body, according to Kim Polese, president and chief executive officer of Marimba.

Castanet consists of a "transmitter" server that allows companies to broadcast and manage software and content over the Internet. A corresponding "tuner" program lets users automatically tap into the broadcasts instead of having to constantly install new programs or check Web sites for the latest information.

Marimba is currently doing what virtually every Internet start-up company tries to do: get its client software and development tools into the hands of as many users as possible in an effort to achieve "ubiquity." Besides posting Castanet on the Internet, the company is scrambling to sign up vendors that will meld Castanet with their products, including IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and Oracle.

Today, Marimba also announced it will work with Intel, Macromedia, and the Public Broadcasting Service to create a "hybrid" CD-ROM that receives information updates from the Net, as previously reported by CNET. Marimba has already announced deals with Netscape Communications and Apple Computer to embed its tuner into their products. The PublishNow developer kit, due out this spring, will make integration easier.

Following the course of companies such as Progressive Networks and Netscape, Marimba also has a keen interest in upholding one of the central tenets of the Internet--openness.

Although Castanet works over TCP/IP, the standard protocol of the Internet, it uses a proprietary technology, called application distribution protocol (ADP), to broadcast software and content to users. Marimba expects to eventually give ADP to a Net standards organization, but the company hasn't picked one yet nor has it figured out when it will hand the technology over. However, it has decided to transfer the APIs in its software kit to the W3C in the spring.

On the surface, the implications of handing its crown jewels over to a standards group are startling; another software vendor could swoop in and imitate Castanet. By that time, Marimba's Polese said, the company hopes to have a substantial head start on any competitors.