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IBM Dives Into Online Backup

In a move that validates the growth of online backup, IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) has launched a series of services for monthly subscribers (see IBM Offers Data Management ).

Based on technologies from several partners, including Avamar Inc. and on off-site vaulting provided by LiveVault Corp., IBM's Electronic Data Management Services offer customers a way to replace tape backup with disk-based storage, via facilities hosted by IBM.

This is a first for IBM, which up to now has provided backup and recovery services, but not for monthly subscribers. "We've offered online backup and record recovery services on a custom, customer-by-customer basis," says Dick Fordham, development manager for IBM's Business Continuity and Recovery Services (BCRI). Now, the company is looking to grow this tiny division of IBM Global Services, starting with an unspecified number of beta customers.

Online backup services typically include remote data vaults to which IT shops can send backed-up data over dedicated IP networks or even the Internet, usually for a few hundred dollars a month. Fordham says prices will vary, but IBM hopes for 36- or 60-month contracts hovering in the range of "$10 to $17 per gigabyte per month."

IBM's version of online backup has several options. For small businesses and divisions of larger enterprises, there's backup via LiveVault branded service over the Internet. Customers can also choose other IBM-hosted services deploying Avamar's Axion replication software, which has been ported to IBM iSeries hardware (Avamar also offers its solution on its own hardware and is certified to run on Dell and HP hardware too). IBM's also offering recovery software from Indigo Stone, replication from Vision Solutions, and IBM's own TotalStorage applications. To top things off, IBM's reselling hardware from Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP) with the new services.

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