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IBM touts new backup services

Big Blue is set to announce the new service, which will allow companies to get their computer systems back up and running quickly in the case of a disaster.

IBM is introducing a new service that will allow companies to get their computer systems back up and running quickly in the case of a disaster, the company plans to announce Wednesday.

Targeted at financial services, retail and transportation companies, the new service involves the use of fast backup systems that duplicate not only data, but applications as well, said Roger Schwanhausser, director of storage services for IBM Global Services. As part of the initiative, IBM is also consulting with companies to assess their current disaster-recovery systems.

The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks have forced businesses to focus on planning for disasters, Schwanhausser said.

"Recent events have underscored the necessity to safeguard data, but if the applications that use the data aren't running, you're not in business," Schwanhausser said in a statement.

Backup systems have become increasingly important to companies, especially for those that conduct business over the Internet. eBay, for instance, spent millions of dollars to develop a "hot" backup system after repeated multihour outages infuriated site users.

IBM's new service will work with a range of operating systems and applications, including Windows NT, AIX, Solaris and various flavors of Unix, Schwanhausser said. He did not know whether IBM had developed a backup system for Linux, however.

The new service will allow companies to shrink the time needed to resume normal computer functions from as long as 48 hours down to less than 20 minutes, he said.

Among the clients of IBM's new service are the Los Angeles Unified School District and Pershing, which is a subsidiary of financial services giant Credit Suisse First Boston, Schwanhausser said.

IBM has dedicated 100 employees to working with a new group assigned to the data recovery initiative, the executive said. Large corporations can expect to spend in the tens of millions of dollars for IBM's new service, which could take up to six months to launch, he said.