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SunGard taps start-up for emergency e-mail

MessageOne's service gets e-mail restored to corporate customers as soon as possible in the event of a natural disaster, terrorist strike or blackout.

Disaster recovery specialist SunGard has inked a deal with an Austin, Texas-based start-up to insulate its customers from e-mail outages.

Under the deal, SunGard is now offering e-mail availability and notification services based on technology from MessageOne to its customers, the companies said. The services essentially seek to get e-mail restored to corporate customers as soon as possible in the event of a natural disaster, terrorist strike, blackout or other problem. IBM also works with MessageOne.

SunGard will offer basic e-mail recovery to its customers for free, but it will charge about $1 per employee for services that will ensure domain name preservation and no e-mail downtime, said Mark Scully, senior director of product development at SunGard. With these enhanced services, outsiders will not know that problems have occurred, he said.

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Disaster recovery services include consulting, data backup at remote sites, alternative offices and equipment, and mobile offices that can roll to a customer's site. SunGard, which has roughly 10,000 clients, competes in the market against Hewlett-Packard and IBM.

Like other disaster recovery firms, MessageOne relies on duplication to get affected corporations back online. E-mail messages are copied on backup systems in a physically distant location. Ideally, if the home office gets knocked out, the backup systems will be out of harm's way.

The company's services differ from traditional services in that they don't back up everything, but instead replicate only e-mail that the customer marks as a priority. A CEO's e-mail files might be preserved in total, but the average employee may have only 10 days' worth of e-mail saved at any given time. By not mirroring all of the data, MessageOne can substantially cut costs, according to the company.

MessageOne's back-end systems also run on Linux to shield itself better against Microsoft Exchange attacks, the company has said.

Customers include Motorola and Young Broadcasting. During the August 2003 blackout in the Northeast, MessageOne restored e-mail for affected customers by activating back-up e-mail systems located in Chicago.

MessageOne was founded by Adam Dell, a venture capitalist whose brother founded computer manufacturer Dell.