Gmail gains enterprise cred with added Postini features

In moving its Postini messaging security into Google Apps for Business, the search giant is making Gmail a more attractive cloud-based option for Postini customers with on-premise mail servers, one analyst said.

Google has been gradually integrating Postini's security and compliance capabilities into Google Apps since acquiring the company in 2007. On Wednesday, Google announced that it had added features for filtering email and routing it to on-premise systems, as well as to Gmail, its cloud-based email messaging system in Apps.

Phil Hochmuth, an analyst with IDC, said companies that provide hosted email have been adding security features for sometime, and Google is a part of that trend. For Postini customers, having features like routing and filtering in Gmail makes the service a stronger option for on-premise alternatives. "It's going to make the barrier to migrate or switch less," Hochmuth said on Thursday.

"It might entice some or a lot of enterprises or [small- and mid-size businesses] that have been maintaining on-premise messaging platforms to at least try the hosted Gmail or archiving," he said.

Google's toughest competition comes from companies that provide hosted Microsoft Exchange services, such as Microsoft itself and Perimeter E-Security. Now that Gmail is getting more of Postini's security and archiving services, it's becoming a stronger rival.

"A lot of large customers of Postini haven't been interested in getting rid of their on-premise email servers and moving to the cloud," Hochmuth said. "This could help that."

The latest Postini capabilities added to Google Apps are available at no additional cost. Before, customers had to pay for the features separately by subscribing to Postini Google Message Filtering. With the features included with Google Apps, corporate groups like sales, support and operations can route messages to generic email addresses, such as sales@ or support@, in third-party alerting systems.

When completed, the migration will end the Postini brand, which will be incorporated as features in Google Apps for Business and Google Apps Vault. The former is a suite of hosted email, calendar and collaboration services, while the latter provides archiving and discovery services for email.

While making Apps more secure for business, Google has also worked at expanding its market reach. This year, the company obtained ISO 27001 certification, qualifying the suite for use by government agencies and regulated industries.

Looking ahead to 2013, Google said it will gradually transition Postini Google Message Security into Apps, and take Postini Google Message Discover into Apps and Apps Vault. "This will enable them to take advantage of the Postini features built directly into Google Apps that are more flexible, powerful and user-friendly," Adam Dawes, product manager for Google Apps, said in a blog post.

Google paid $625 million cash for Postini. At the time, the company provided cloud-based e-mail archiving and services for filtering e-mail spam and malware before they reached the client's mail server. Today, Postini services process 10 billion email messages through data centers in the U.S. and Europe.

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