Google's Postini group Dec. 9 rolled out Message Continuity, the latest in a string of software solutions to help Microsoft's on-premise e-mail users to get more comfortable with the Google Apps cloud.
Google Message Continuity preserves the state of corporate e-mail created in Microsoft Exchange, the e-mail server software used by most businesses today.
The application duplicates e-mail accounts living on Microsoft Exchange servers in the cloud, using Google's Gmail, Calendar and contacts from Google Apps. Message Continuity constantly syncs Gmail and Exchange, allowing users to switch from one e-mail environment to the other.
The idea, said Adam Swidler, product marketing manager for Google's Postini group, is that if Exchange fails or needs to be taken down for maintenance, users can log into Gmail with the same user ID they use to log into Exchange to access e-mail, calendar and contact data.
Once the outage is resolved, messages received by Gmail in the interim are synced back to Microsoft Exchange, with message state changes, such as deletions and folder assignments, carried over from Gmail to Exchange.
"A lot of the on-premise e-mail systems typically go through a certain amount of downtime, both planned and unplanned, that can create problems for businesses," Swidler told eWEEK. The problems include lost data, productivity and possibly sales.
Gmail relies on Google's cloud of servers running in parallel so it sees little unplanned downtime, he added. The parallel processing capabilities, accompanied by synchronous replication and redundancy, help servers step in and pick up the slack for failed servers and storage.
Available for organizations using Exchange 2003 and Exchange 2007, Google Message Continuity will cost $25 per user, per year for new customers, who will also get Postini's antispam, encryption and other components.
Existing Postini customers will pay $13 per user, per year via a software add-on. These prices are in addition to the $50 per user, per year Google charges for Google Apps Business Edition.
Message Continuity follows two other tools Google has crafted to make moving from Microsoft Outlook and Exchange to Gmail and Google Apps easier.
Google last month launched Google Cloud Connect, a free software plug-in that people can use to create Office documents and save them to Google Docs.
In June 2009, Google rolled out Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook plug-in, which lets users access their Google Apps e-mail, contacts and calendars through the familiar Outlook interface.
Google and Microsoft are certainly locked in a collaboration computing struggle.
While Google secured a contract with the General Services Administration, Microsoft just landed the United States Department of Agriculture as a customer for its own Web-based e-mail and collaboration software.
Microsoft also won the large Department of Interior deal (88,000 employees) , prompting Google to sue the government, for allegedly failing to consider alternatives.