MessageLabs, best known as a provider of email security services, last week introduced a managed email backup service that has as a selling point the same security features built into the company's other products.

The security angle could be an important feature for MessageLabs, since security is a recurring issue for remote backup systems.

Like the company's other products, MessageLabs Email Continuity is software-as-a-service (SaaS) and is integrated with other offerings such as encryption or content policy enforcement services, MessageLabs said.

The service enables continuous Outlook, webmail and BlackBerry access and can scale up to the needs of large organisations, the company said.

Failover can be activated within a minute, and administrators can specify which parts of the organisation have been affected by an outage. Priority can also be set for which systems are synchronised back to Exchange once the outage is over.

Synchronisation covers corporate directories, user accounts, contacts, calendars and distribution lists, and sent and received email data is restored to the primary system along with forensic information after the outage, MessageLabs said.

Administrators have the option of a retention feature, where the backup system gets an encrypted copy of every email sent or received while the primary system is operating normally, as an extra safeguard.

The system cuts back on bandwidth usage by sending only a single copy of each email to the backup system, even for messages sent to multiple recipients.

MessageLabs has made its reputation through email security services, with offerings such as the Boundary Encryption Service, protecting email sent between business partners, and Email Content Control and Email Image Control, which scan emails for inappropriate, confidential or malicious content sent or received by an organisation's employees.