Marimba upgrades tool to track use of applications

FRAMINGHAM (10/06/2003) - Marimba Inc. Monday announced an upgraded application-tracking tool that can measure how often end users run the programs installed on their PCs. Like similar products from other vendors, the beefed-up tool is designed to help IT managers reduce costs by weeding out unneeded software licenses.

The Software Usage Solution 6.0 release extends the tool's capabilities for tracking application inventories to automated collection of usage details, such as the last time an application was opened and how frequently it gets used, said Kelly Wagman, a senior product marketing manager at Marimba in Mountain View, Calif. IT managers can use the data to decide whether to buy more software licenses, harvest unused applications for other end users or cancel unneeded licenses, she said.

The application-tracking tool also can be used with Marimba's software-distribution technology to automatically remove unused programs from PCs. The upgraded software starts at US$30,000 and is due to ship next month, Marimba said.

Scotia Miller, regional manager of desktop architecture at Barclays Global Investors in San Francisco, said the investment management firm urged Marimba to develop the ability to track application use after using the vendor's software distribution tools.

Miller has been using a prerelease version of the product for about six months to track the use of 40 applications. She said Marimba's software detected about 1,100 unused licenses in a three-month period. About half of the end users who weren't using programs said they no longer needed them.

"The cost of software is the driver behind this initiative," Miller said. "With license monitoring on the increase by outside groups, our CIO also doesn't want to pay the fines for unauthorized use."

Barclays has configured the tool to detect applications that haven't been used for 35 days and to automatically send e-mail messages to end users asking if they want to give up their licenses. The 35-day limit was chosen to give workers who go on long vacations or business trips a reasonable amount of time to use applications before Marimba's software takes notice, Miller said.

Earlier this year, Novadigm Inc. in Mahwah, N.J., and Softricity Inc. in Boston both introduced tools that can monitor software usage.

Tim Wilson, an analyst at Enterprise Management Associates Inc. in Boulder, Colo., said many other vendors offer similar products, including heavyweights such as Computer Associates International Inc. and IBM's Tivoli Software unit.

Wilson added, though, that Marimba's usage-metering capability and the integration of the company's tracking tool and its software distribution and automatic uninstall functions differentiate its technology from rival products.

But Fred Broussard, an analyst at IDC in Framingham, Mass., disagreed, saying that Marimba is "running with the pack" of competitors in offering such capabilities.

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