will announce tomorrow version 2.0 of its Castanet software--"push" technology that delivers applications and other software updates over a network directly to users' desktops.
Unlike the more generalized push features of Netscape and Microsoft's latest browsers that let users browse offline through Web content, Castanet is specifically built to distribute executable code, with its Java-built "transmitter" server and "tuner" client. For example, a bank can distribute a financial application across its network and then send updates or fixes without resending the entire application.
Castanet 2.0 adds more finely grained administration controls so that a network manager can customize the deployment of Castanet's Tuner client and set access controls without building a separate password-protection system. Another enhancement will be support for X.509 digital signatures to verify the identity of an application's sender.
So far, the main Castanet customers have been corporations looking to build their own delivery solutions, third-party software vendors such as Netscape who embed Castanet into their own products, and device manufacturers, according to Marimba vice president of marketing David Cope.
One Internet software analyst agreed that Marimba has to appeal to exactly these markets to succeed. "Everyone doing push technology is retrenching," said Harry Fenik of Zona Research "[Companies like] BackWeb and Marimba have an opportunity, but not as providers of a generic push environment."
Castanet is part of Netscape's Netcaster client. The integration allows a user to receive software updates without opening a separate application. The software is not embedded in Internet Explorer 4.0, although an icon representing a Castanet channel can be added directly to IE's Active Desktop, Cope said.
Castanet 2.0 will be available this month and is expected to ship for $995. To use it, customers are required to have the Castanet Transmitter server. A Japanese version will also ship this month with other languages to follow at an unspecified date, Cope added.