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June 4, 1997updated 05 Sep 2016 12:53pm


By CBR Staff Writer

Marimba Inc is working on an enterprise version of its Castanet Java application distribution technology which will support large numbers of frequent modem connections and likely include some of the authentication and security work already underway (CI No 3,134). Marimba co-founder and chief technology officer Arthur van Hoff envisages a typical enterprise-class Castanet user might be a car manufacturer which needs to update specification and model data information held by 3,000 suppliers or dealers at least once every day. Remember Marimba’s sticking closely to developing technology for the wider internet rather than intranets. There’s no indication of when the enterprise version will be available, but Marimba is now also working on adding authentication mechanisms to open up Java’s so-called ‘sandbox’ and enable, for the first time, Castanet users to download non- Java applets such as Dynamic Link Libraries (DLLs), RealAudio or ShockWave applications. Castanet ‘tuner’ clients will know where the applets came from, and whether those applets can be trusted to access a user’s computer’s file system safely. Marimba’s still working on providing Secure Socket Layers (SSL) encryption based upon RSA Data Security Inc technology, and is reportedly also developing on a set of encryption APIs that its partners can use to conform to different countries encryption export laws. Further down the line Marimba also plans to add a micro-transaction billing system to Castanet. Its business model forecasts users paying a small amount of cents for each networked application component they use, which will be metered by Castanet and is likened to a conventional telephone bill which lists all charges for all calls irrespective of where the call was made to. Van Hoff’s looking for potential partners to develop such as system but says he doesn’t see anything on the radar screen yet. Marimba says its style of automatic pull technology where a user decides which applets it wants updated using a Castanet tuner client attached to applet ‘channels’ is different from Web-push technology’s traditional poster boy, PointCast Inc. For starters Castanet enables users to replicate the transmitter (where resides the application and content source), on to regionally- based servers (which it calls repeaters) rather than having all clients hit on one server. Van Hoff didn’t say whether Marimba will go the next obvious step as previously suggested and integrate multicasting with Castanet – one message to multiple clients – but did observe that it’s unacceptable that a handful of companies should be able to hog huge swathes of internet bandwidth. He claims 18% of all internet traffic is PointCast updates or downloads to that company’s Santa Clara, California site which now has three T3 connections. Van Hoff also wants to see improvements in the general Java paradigm including a smaller set of Java libraries included on each client Java virtual machine along with the enabling of applets to bring their own limited set of Java libraries – and therefore more specific functionality – with them over the network. It’s simply not feasible to download the whole SunSoft Inc RMI Remote Method Invocation Java-to-Java communication framework or Java Beans components, van Hoff says. The Castanet system is designed to enable Java applets to share whatever Java libraries may be common between them rather than having to download a new set for each applet. Users of Castanet download the difference between an old applet and its new incarnation rather the whole instance. Castanet 1.1 is due next month with support for JDK 1.1. Will 1.0 applications be compatible? They behave reasonably well, says van Hoff, although there’s some keyboard stuff that doesn’t work just yet. Marimba has no plans to support Microsoft Corp’s Channel Definition Format push technology component directly. There’s no point as developers can pick up one of the many toolkits available and simply implement CDF as a Castanet channel, the company says. Indeed Castanet runs just fine with Microsoft Internet Explorer browser – it’s being bundled by Netscape – although the tuner has to be opened as a separate application.

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