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April 6, 1989

UK DISASTER RECOVERY PLAYERS STAY COOL IN FACE OF LOOMING ONSLAUGHT FROM THE US

By CBR Staff Writer

Major players in the UK’s disaster recovery market appear unruffled by the news that they may shortly be competing head-on with IBM (CI No 1,150) – and with the two market leaders in the US, Sungard Data Systems and Comdisco Inc, both of which had been looking to Europe for expansion even before IBM’s move. Datashield, Phoenix Business Systems, and CAP-RS, all made stock it – will – make – the – market – more – competitive responses, while a Granada Services CRS representative claimed that the company’s proven reputation would continue to see off competitors. Safetynet’s Jim Burtles provided a more measured reaction with the observation that though IBM has a ready-made customer base, it won’t have first choice of customers. According to Burtles, although only 15% tapped, the market will shortly be entering a third, and more competitive phase. Because keen customers have already signed up, disaster brokers will have to draw new ones from relatively sceptical ranks, he explained. Burtles, ex-IBM Technical Support Group, also believes that in the UK, IBM has a shortage of specialised disaster recovery staff. Consequently he expects the company will either form some kind of partnership, or find that it is confined to offering a fringe, consultancy based service. Its failure to participate in any of the Computer Services Association’s disaster recovery endeavours also means that if it does enter the market, it will be in a clumsy, unskilled manner, he concluded. Should IBM prove more of a challenge than currently perceived, the diversification of services to cover a wider range of hardware could prove an advantage. Granada CRS already offers contingency planning for DEC, Wang, Hewlett-Packard, ICL, and Bull HN customers, while CAP-RS plans to announce an additional, non-IBM hot site within the next three months. Companies such as Datashield and Istel’s Failsafe, firmly entrenched in the IBM market, may well prove the losers. Naturally, IBM UK denies any current intention to enter the disaster market; past experience shows however, that the average shelf life of such IBM denials lies somewhere between one week and six months.

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