IBM to absorb Schlumberger data recovery unit

With steady growth expected in the business continuity market, Big Blue acquires a rival to expand its ability to provide work sites and data access during emergencies.

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IBM on Tuesday said it will take over a unit of European company Schlumberger that helps businesses weather unexpected outages.

The London-based Business Continuity unit operates 40 recovery sites globally and has 750 clients, including financial institutions, government bodies and corporations. IBM said it will hire 260 employees in the Schlumberger division and organize them into a separate unit within IBM Global Services. Financial terms of the takeover were not announced.

The type of services the unit offers are designed to help companies continue their operations without interruption in the event of an emergency or unplanned shutdown. Corporations get their data routed to a disaster recovery location and move their employees there temporarily.

IBM said such services are also increasing in importance, as corporations work to meet the data protection requirements of regulations such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in the United States and Basel II in Europe.

The disaster recovery market is expected to grow from $29.9 billion in 2001 to $54.9 billion in 2006, an annual growth rate of 12.9 percent, according to market researcher IDC.

With the acquisition, IBM expects to add 10,000 recovery "seats," configured into financial trading rooms, call centers and other workplaces, to its disaster recovery infrastructure. The company recently unveiled data retention products designed to help businesses comply with data-handling rules.

"As companies' business processes have grown increasingly dependent on IT, clients look for integrated business continuity solutions that cover the full range from data centers via applications to business processes," Philippe Jarre, vice president of business continuity and resiliency services for IBM Europe, Middle East and Africa, said in a statement.