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Netscape, Marimba sign distribution pact

Netscape agrees to market, sell, and support Marimba's Castanet products through its direct and indirect sales force.

Netscape Communications (NSCP) and Marimba have announced a distribution pact that calls for Netscape to market, sell, and support Marimba's Castanet products through its direct and indirect sales force.

As previously reported by CNET's NEWS.COM, under the alliance, Netscape plans to resell Marimba's Castanet Transmitter server software. It builds on a previous announcement to bundle Marimba's Castanet Tuner client software in Netscape Netcaster.

"This expanded business relationship enables Netscape and Marimba to drastically reduce the cost of managing information technology for our enterprise customers," Netscape chief executive Jim Barksdale said in a statement.

Marimba chief executive Kim Polese said Netscape's role as a key distribution partner was a "perfect complement to our business strategy."

The deal is the latest example of companies teaming up to take on software giant Microsoft, which is trying to pitch "one-stop shopping" of technology products to customers with its distribution and sales channels, as well as its support network.

Netscape and Marimba executives said they plan to build on their relationship. "We're investigating obvious technologies that leverage our solutions, such as replication and HTTP," said Dave Cope, vice president of marketing for Marimba. "There's plenty of room for better solutions."

Cope called the deal "by far the most significant distribution partnership we've announced to date." Marimba has other independent distributors in Japan, Europe, and the United States, however.

Marimba's Transmitter software fills a gap in Netscape's product line, according Alex Edelstein, assistant to the chief executive at Netscape. "This is only the beginning," he said of the alliance. "From Netscape's perspective, this is positive because we don't want to build everything ourselves. We think the right way to compete is to partner up."

Both executives stressed that their products are not "vaporware" as they are available now. Users can use both companies' software for real-life applications such as performing workforce surveys and then having the results "broadcast" to end users on channels. Another example involves filling out insurance applications on the Web to get quotes, file a claim, or update records.

The Netscape-Marimba pact might be seen as another example of "keiretsu," a Japanese term that is used by venture capitalist Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers to describe sharing the strengths of respective companies in business and technology partnerships. KPCB invests in both Netscape and Marimba.

Last month, CNET's NEWS.COM reported that Microsoft is quietly preparing to take on push technology from Marimba with the next version of its Web browser. Microsoft discussed a feature known as "package management," which will allow systems managers to transmit and manage software applications across networks. The new technology is part of an Internet research and development effort that will cost the company $1.5 billion in the coming year.