Novadigm Inc will today announce its first internet-based software distribution product that it believes is head and shoulders above other push providers, in particular Marimba Inc, with which Novadigm is currently in a legal tussle over patents. The company is bringing experience garnered from its traditional Enterprise Desktop Management client-server distribution software to internet distribution. The Mahwah, New Jersey company today announces software manager, the first of four releases that will comprise a suite of tools for delivering and updating software over the internet under the brand name Radia. The key difference between it and Marimba, says Novadigm chairman and founder Albion Fitzgerald, is what the company calls its active component management technology that enables the client to be fully configurable and takes accounts of users’ various platforms and software versions. It can determine what is already installed, what platform it is on, the limitations of the desktop or network device and so on. Fitzgerald contrasts it with Marimba’s approach, which he says offers no sensitivity for individual users. Novadigm’s technology can take any content, be it software, documents, libraries, and wrap it in objects for distribution. That work is done by the publisher on the server, which feeds it down to the thin subscriber client. The third of the constant elements in Novadigm’s software, the active component technology, decides what should and what should not be pushed down to the client. The Radia technology, formerly code named Charlotte, will have four more releases over the next few quarters. Next up is an application manager for which availability will be announced within the next 30 to 60 days. It enables developers to create components based applications that are dynamically updated at run time. Then comes delivery manager, which is meant for software vendors to wrap objects round their own software for distribution and finally content manager which supports such files as pdf, Quark and other formats used in catalogs. All four should be shipping by the third quarter of 1998. The first product, software manager, is meant for corporations to provide users with a shopping list of software they want to upgrade. Fitzgerald says it would take a corporation about 20 minutes to wrap Office97 in objects ready for distribution. Another key difference between this and what Marimba does is the range of software components that can be distributed. Marimba started off only being able to deliver Java components, but has since introduced Dynamic Link Libraries and other Windows-based formats. Novadigm supports 17 platforms and Fitzgerald says there is nothing that cannot be made into a distributable object with Radia. So why is everybody hammering on Kim Polese’s door at Marimba and not Fitzgerald’s at Novadigm? Fitzgerald admitted that the company’s marketing has not been too hot but will step it up. The dispute with Marimba involves Novadigm’s fractional differencing technology, which is the bit that determines what needs updating. Despite Marimba’s Castanet only poking at the edges of fractional differencing, as Fitzgerald put it, he is still confident that Novadigm will prevail: it is exactly our process that enables them [Marimba] to do what they do, he said. The case is still at the discovery stage, which means the two sides are still exchanging documents. Fitzgerald says the company is still on target for profitability by the end of the current fiscal in March and that it has written a Java version of the client but would not consider shipping it at the moment as it reckons Java is too unstable. Radia software manager will ship in December as a Windows NT server and Windows clients. Unix and Macintosh support will come in early 1998. The server, supporting 100 clients will start at $15,000 and additional clients will cost $50.
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