Intraware Notifies of Software Updates

Just keeping on top of all the latest software patches and upgrades as they come to market is enough to keep IT managers busy. Even just knowing which upgrades exist for all the applications that make up an intranet can be a difficult task. Since release cycles are shortening as software vendors respond to time-to-market pressures, use rapid development tools, and depend on their Web site to post bug patches and workarounds, the task of "keeping up" continues to become harder.

While some vendors send e-mail notifications or post software additions on their Web site, this is usually not done in a timely manner. "The rapid upgrade cycle requires higher quality and more comprehensive support services than most software developers are positioned to deliver," says Steve McHale, senior analyst at market analysis firm International Data Corp. (Framingham, Mass.).

To provide such service, Intraware Inc. (Orinda, Calif., launched SubscribNet, a service that alerts customers when software has been updated, and provides the user with ways to obtain it. SubscribNet automatically informs customers, via e-mail, each time new versions of customer’s licensed software becomes available. Included in the e-mail alerts are reports concerning known incompatibilities, urgent bug patches and workarounds, and the benefits of updates and upgrades. But unlike individual software vendors that simply post to Web sites, SubscribeNetsends only what is relevant to the user’s licensed software. So if you’re using Netscape Navigator, notifications of patches for Internet Explorer won’t be landing in your inbox.

One of the advantages of SubscribNet is timeliness. Intraware works with software manufacturers to ensure that they find out about the upgrades before they become available. "Given our relationships with vendors, we’re notified in time to alert our customers within a day of when the update comes out," says Peter Jackson, CEO, Intraware.

SubscribNet enables customers to establish multiple levels of notification, download authorization and credit limit authorization. In addition, the service tracks downloads and purchases by account, department and contacts across multiple levels throughout an enterprise. Contacts within a company can also post notes pertaining to a release, internal testing results or company intranet architecture, and version standards. Access to SubscribNet is controlled by a password-protected Web site, and is customizable to both the account and contact level. The actual notification of software updates is delivered via e-mail, and downloading can be done via FTP or secure http.

But SubscribNet does more than simple notification. "Because we work so closely with the products, we find bugs too, and may even kick it back to the vendor before letting our customers know about the update," claims Jackson.

Intraware currently supports more than 16 software vendors, and more than 50 product lines. By year-end the company aims to support the top 50 intranet and extranet vendors. "Intraware is well-positioned to provide the level of support that corporations demand," says IDC’s McHale.