Patch Manager Gets Repository

Marimba improves data gathering.

Marimba Inc. is stepping up its efforts to move into the patch management space with the launch of its latest Marimba Security Patch Management offering.

The company added several new features to Version 2.0, which is built on its Marimba 6.0 architecture, including an integrated patch repository that can automatically collect patch information from Microsoft Corp., Sun Microsystems Inc. and Shavlik Technologies LLC. Shavlik is a small patch management company that collects information about patches and provides it in machine-readable format.

Marimba Security Patch Management, which automates the collection, staging, approval, preparation and deployment of security patches, works across multiple desktop environments and servers, according to officials. The new release also addresses the time-consuming patch-testing problem faced by many IT shops with a new patch testing and simulation function. The simulator can determine before deployment which patches will install on end points and which will not, and which patches are obsolete; it will identify patch conflicts and the installation order, the officials said.

Although Marimba has not yet determined how much time the new simulation capability can save in testing, "weve found it increases the accuracy a lot more and reduces the number of permutations you have to test," said Purnima Padmanabhan, director of product management at Marimba, in Mountain View, Calif.

The agent-based patch management system also adds a new intelligent patch installer that will take a group of patches intended for different operating system versions and analyze which patch is appropriate for the end point in which the agent resides. It also determines the installation order and reboot time.

The new release, which is sold as a stand-alone offering or as part of the Marimba 6.0 software change management and configuration suite, adds new patch auditing and reporting, which work with the suites policy management capability. "We provide compliance reports against patch policies. Within one shot, you know how many [end points] are compliant or are not compliant," said Padmanabhan.

The rapidly maturing market for patch management will continue to see strong growth as "companies focus on top-of-mind patch management," said Jan Sundgren, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc., in Cambridge, Mass. "But [discrete products] will eventually be absorbed into broader vulnerability management products."

Marimba, similar to competitors such as LANDesk Software Inc. and Altiris Inc., moved into the patch management arena last year as large enterprises struggled to keep pace with the growing number of security threats and patches.

The new release is due next month.