Unisys has released a business continuity system for its Intel-based ES7000 Windows servers, saying that the technology will allow fail-over to a backup site thousands of miles away and recovery within 30 minutes.

The system, called SafeGuard 30m, is the first in a series of offerings that Unisys officials said will be released in the coming months under the company's broad Real-Time Infrastructure initiative. RTI, which is philosophically similar to the on-demand and adaptive computing concepts advocated by other IT vendors, will include tools for infrastructure management, consolidation, modeling and migration.

SafeGuard 30m uses Microsoft's clustering software, but with Unisys adding its own software and hardware to create a turnkey system intended to address one of the challenges of long-distance data replication.

Business continuity systems often use synchronous data transfers at the disaster recovery site, but network latency limits synchronous transfer distances to about 300 kilometers, or 186 miles. Unisys said its approach also permits asynchronous transfers that mitigate data loss over long distances by adding disk-writing appliances and monitoring capabilities. Depending on the size of the deployment, SafeGuard 30m costs $200,000 to $1.2 million, Unisys said.

One ES7000 user, Larry Godec, CIO at First American Title Insurance, said he's already using EMC's Symmetrix Remote Data Facility software to replicate data from First American's headquarters in California, to a data centre in Dallas. EMC's technology also supports both synchronous and asynchronous replication. "I'm not sure how Unisys could offer anything faster," Godec said.

Unisys said the RTI suite will include features such as dynamic provisioning and virtualisation. But what Larry Mueller, director of information systems operations for the Montebello Unified School District in California, really wants is for Unisys to improve the vertical scalability of the ES7000, which he runs with 16 processors.

Mueller said multiple applications running on one instance of Windows Server 2003 Datacenter Edition sometimes conflict. That forces him to separate the applications into partitions and run another instance of the operating system.

The RTI road map doesn't include the huge installed base of the vendor's older product lines. But separately, Unisys has an ongoing effort to help users modernise their ClearPath mainframe systems, which run the OS 2200 and MCP operating systems. Unisys officials have promised that the company will continue to support its legacy systems.