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Polese to push software updates

Can software applications be reincarnated? According to Marimba CEO Kim Polese, they just might be as the "lifecycle" of applications becomes increasingly accelerated.

NEW YORK--Can software applications be reincarnated? They just might be as the "lifecycle" of applications becomes increasingly accelerated, a phenomenon described today by Kim Polese, chief executive of Marimba.

Speaking at the PC Expo trade show here, Polese described how competition in industries such as banking is quickening the pace

of software development and deployment. Of course, she was also quick to point out that Marimba's Castanet technology has a solution for the quandary of how to manage and deliver timely updates to software applications and data.

Polese's speech came as the company prepared to begin public beta testing of the new 1.1 version of Castanet, which includes support for the latest Java development kit from Sun Microsystems. The company will post Castanet 1.1 and a new server technology called the Repeater for free testing sometime this week, a Marimba spokeswoman said today.

Castanet consists of a server and client--called the Transmitter and Tuner--that allow systems managers to centrally broadcast new applications to end users over a network rather than having to manually install the application updates on each desktop. Currently, Castanet can distribute both Java and native code applications. But for security reasons, the company only recommends that developers use it for Java applications.

Yesterday, David Cope, Marimba's vice president of marketing, said that the company will announce within the "next few weeks" new security developments that will make it safer to broadcast native code for operating systems such as Windows 95 and Macintosh.

Marimba says that its technology answers a growing demand among big corporations to quickly deploy and manage new versions of applications.

"Now we're talking about lifecycles for applications that are minutes long," Polese said. "A bug fix can be deployed within an hour of a customer making a complaint."

Today, Polese predicted that home banking will eventually take off and that banks will need to deliver sophisticated applications to customers that don't depend on Web browsers. She said that Castanet could allow end users to receive incremental updates to a money management application without having to download an entirely new program.

"Whether you are a banker, a bookseller, or a PC manufacture, your future depends on the Internet to deliver a broad range of services," she said.

In an interesting twist, Marimba is using Castanet to update Castanet itself. Current users of the Castanet tuner can simply subscribe to the Castanet "channel" to download the new elements in version 1.1 of the product. However, the Castanet Transmitter can not currently update itself so users will have to manually download the new 1.1 Transmitter.

The new Repeater server from Marimba will allow companies to better distribute software broadcasts among multiple servers to handle more users. The new features in Castanet 1.1 are described on Marimba's Web site.

Although she cofounded Marimba just last year, Polese has become a darling of the high-tech industry, speaking at trade shows that normally play host to figures like Bill Gates and Larry Ellison. Next week, Polese will join Vice President Al Gore and other high-tech leaders in Nashville, Tennessee, to discuss the role of technology in education.