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Sun calls on SunGard for small-business 911

Sun Microsystems teams up with the disaster recovery specialist to offer emergency services aimed at small and midsize companies, in its latest services alliance.

In its latest services partnership, Sun Microsystems is teaming up with disaster recovery specialist SunGard to help smaller businesses cope with outages caused by fires, tornados and the like.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company plans to announce on Thursday that it is offering a disaster recovery program, provided by SunGard's Availability Services group, to small and midsize businesses in North America. The managed services, which include access to a backup Sun server computer in an emergency outage, are priced low enough to appeal to smaller companies, according to Jay Swartz, a senior product manager at Sun.

"It actually opens the door for smaller businesses that haven't been able to invest in disaster recovery," he said.

The annual fee for basic disaster recovery services centered on an entry-level Sun V480 server is $4,320, Swartz said, while the same program for a midrange Sun E2900 machine costs $9,288 a year.

Sun is not alone in trying to reach smaller businesses with this sort of emergency insurance. Dell already offers a similar product in partnership with SunGard, and IBM recently announced a disaster recovery service as part of its "Express" offerings for midlevel customers.

Midsize businesses generally are defined as companies between 100 and 999 employees. There are about 100,000 such operations in the United States, according to research firm IDC.

Sun has worked with SunGard in the past. In their latest offering, customers with virtually any of Sun's server computers can buy disaster recovery services that come in "basic", "enhanced" and "premium" flavors.

The basic level allows a customer suffering an emergency to bring its backup tapes to a SunGard data center, where it can fire up a Sun server equivalent to the one it had been using. Employees also have access to desktop computers and phones.

Sun said that in the enhanced version of the service, customers get more spaces in a SunGard disaster recovery facility, and there is an option for SunGard to deliver computers and desks to customer sites and to set up phone service. The premium service includes consultations on disaster recovery plans.

Sun's services unit has been forging alliances as part of an effort to expand its reach beyond traditional maintenance contracts. The unit, whose revenue rose to a record level last year, has also joined forces with VeriSign for security services and with SchlumbergerSema for server services.