Marimba Inc. last week picked up the automation drumbeat being pounded out by management software rivals Tivoli, an IBM unit, and others when it rolled out the latest release of its Desktop/Mobile Management product line.
New scheduling functions in Version 5.0 of the Marimba suite, along with streamlined deployment, are intended to extend Marimbas lead in reducing the amount of time required to deploy the product and the number of operators required to administer the tool set.
Most users can expect a payback on their investment in eight months to a year with up to 75 percent fewer administrators required to run the product, according to Marimba officials in Mountain View, Calif.
But some observers are skeptical of such claims. "I want to see the underlying data that says that," said Ken Smiley, an analyst at Giga Information Group Inc., in Kansas City, Mo. "They had interesting numbers on their slide, but I havent heard that from my clients. Vendor after vendor creates these [return-on-investment] formulas that arent an accurate depiction of the market."
The new scheduling option provides better control over software installation, repair and removal procedures and allows IT to create and enforce policies that control the timing of an automated content or application distribution and activation.
Such control is intended primarily for pharmaceutical and insurance companies and telecommunications providers.
Version 5.0 also provides tighter integration with the suites remote control component, allowing an administrator to view a report, drill down for details and take control of a remote PC, all within the same interface.
One Marimba user at a large medical supply company who intends to "look at" the new release sees some real benefit to the built-in reports in the latest release, according to the user, who asked not to be named. "There are some canned reports that allow easy viewing of the asset data thats collected. We would have used that if we had it earlier," said the user.
The new release also adds a new Web-based central management portal that allows customers to configure and customize the suite from a single point. The portal includes built-in templates to streamline the process. The management portal includes built-in reports that correlate application deployment logs with inventory information, allowing administrators to more quickly determine why a particular distribution failed. The new release, due next month, supports Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP, HP-UX, Solaris, Linux and AIX. Compared with competitive offerings, such as Microsoft Corp.s Systems Management Server or Intel Corp.s LANdesk, the Marimba suite requires fewer administrators, according to company officials.