Google to Merge Postini Email Security Services Into Google Apps

Five years after Google bought Postini, the company is changing how it will deliver the email security services to customers. Along with this change, Google is encouraging Postini customers to try Google Apps.

Google is ending its stand-alone Postini email security offering and merging it into its Google Apps products as part of a consolidation move to simplify its services.

The move comes almost five years after Google purchased Postini in September 2007 for about $625 million. Since the acquisition, Google has been integrating Postini's products, personnel and processes into Google's Enterprise Division.

For Postini customers, that means that they'll be gradually moved over to contracts for the services through Google Apps, rather than directly from Postini, according to a Google Support Blog posted the week of Aug 20. The changes will begin with Postini customers whose contracts end starting on Nov. 1, according to Google.

"With this transition to Google Apps, you can receive similar email security, protection and archiving, but through the more robust Google Apps service," the post stated. "Google Apps also works with mail servers, such as Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Notes, so you don't need to switch to Gmail."

Postini services help enterprises protect their users' email accounts from spam, while providing support for instant messaging and Web filtering, message archiving, encryption and policy enforcement.

As part of the move, Google Message Security customers will be served by Google Apps for Business, while Google Message Discovery customers will receive ongoing services through Google Apps for Business and Google Apps Vault, according to Google. A transition plan for customers of Google Message Encryption is still in the works, while the existing Google Message Filtering and Postini Small Business Edition services are being phased out.

In the past year, Google has built the Postini email security and archiving features into the existing Google Apps for Business and Google Apps Vault services.

Postini customers who continue to use their existing levels of services will be migrated to Google Apps services under their current pricing, according to Google.

As part of the transition, Google is encouraging customers to peruse the other Google App offerings, according to an Aug. 15 Google Enterprise Blog post by Adam Dawes, the product manager for Google Apps.

"After the migration, customers can explore other Google Apps such as Gmail and Google Docs," wrote Dawes. "Google Apps offers compelling cost savings and productivity benefits that millions of businesses are already enjoying. We look forward to helping our Postini customers enjoy these benefits-when they are ready."

Since the Postini acquisition, Google has been working to integrate its Postini security and compliance capabilities directly into Google Apps, wrote Dawes. "In the past two years, we developed and released numerous Postini features directly in Google Apps, such as user policy management; email content filters; archiving, retention and eDiscovery with Google Apps Vault; and many more."

The idea, he wrote, was to provide the same kinds of Postini features built directly into Google Apps so they are more flexible, powerful and user-friendly.

So what does the Postini move mean for its approximately 26 million claimed users?

"It's not like they are abandoning Postini customers because this will still allow them to use any email platform," said Michael Osterman, principal analyst at Osterman Research. "It's strategic for Google and makes sense because they want to integrate everything under the Google Apps umbrella" for enterprise customers.

The move makes sense for Google because it is always tough to manage things when you possess two competing brands that offer the same kinds of things, said Osterman. "This is Google acknowledging that they are Google and this is what they do."

Mark Levitt, an analyst with Strategy Analytics, agrees.

"Clearly, Google Apps is where Google sees interactions with business workers and they want to have value there for that integrated offering," said Levitt. The situation came down to whether there was still enough money being made to keep Postini separate or not enough to keep it from being a distraction, he added.

"They're not forcing you to change platforms for email, just to go through Google," he said.

And in the end, it offers Google a great way to show off its other offerings, he said. "It sounds like a relatively easy way to get customers to take a look at Google Apps as a portal to other services."