Feeling More Secure About Google Apps

Google takes the next step in making Google Apps a viable alternative to collaboration suites from Microsoft and IBM.

Less than three weeks after closing its purchase of security software maker Postini, Google said it is adding security and compliance features from that company to Google Apps Premier Edition, the search vendors hosted-collaboration software for enterprises.

The tools could help make Googles SAAS (software-as-a-service) applications suite a bit more attractive as the company seeks to make inroads against Microsoft and IBM in the office productivity and collaboration software market.

The new features, unveiled Oct. 3 by the Mountain View, Calif., company, include policy management and message recovery, along with configurable spam and virus filtering, to complement antispam and antivirus engines in Googles Gmail e-mail application.


To read more about Googles GAPE platform, click here.

With the integration of the Postini assets, GAPE (Google Apps Premier Edition) also now has centrally managed content policy. This enables administrators to block messages with certain content, such as preventing e-mails with sensitive client or project names from being sent and apply policy around headers and footers for outbound messages.

The idea behind these features is to ensure compliance across an organization at a time when record-retention mandates lurk at every step, said Matt Glotzbach, director of product management for Google Enterprise.

Glotzbach said other new Postini features include the ability to create, manage and report on policies that apply to user groups or individual users.

There is also administrative visibility into all e-mail for compliance auditing and the ability to restore messages that have been inadvertently deleted in the last 90 days.

Glotzbach told eWEEK these features are a taste of whats to come.

"We will be beefing up the capabilities within the Premier Edition around message expiration, message policy management, etc., so this is the first installment of that," he said.

While such features might seem routine for makers of software for businesses, the integration of these facilities into Google Apps is a significant step for the company.

Armed with its SAAS model, in which it hosts applications for customers on its own servers, Google is trying to win share in a market dominated by incumbents Microsoft and IBM.

But because Google Apps was originally designed for consumers, analysts have dinged GAPE for not being enterprise-ready. Adding security and compliance could lend a healthy dose of respect for GAPE, said Gartner analyst Tom Austin.

"Its impressive, but theyre not there yet," Austin told eWEEK. "Theres a lot of interest on the part of Gartners clients."

Most clients today are more interested in finding a club to beat on Microsoft with when they go into contract negotiations for their enterprise agreements than they are in making a major decision this year or next to move to Google Apps.


Googles purchase of Postini threatens Microsoft. Click here to read more.

Google isnt stopping there in its quest to make GAPE more appealing. Glotzbach said GAPE will now include a 25-gigabyte e-mail box, a considerable step up from the prior limit of 10GB.

This is a strong shot across the bow of Microsoft, of Redmond, Wash.

"In todays traditional, installed-base server e-mail systems, the average inbox is 250 megabytes," Glotzbach said. "Users spent a ton of time archiving things away into local PST [Post Office Box ] files or deleting messages and losing that wealth of information. Our goal is to make the inbox virtually unlimited in size and continue to provide high-quality search across that repository."

Moreover, he said Googles SAAS model enables the company to fairly easily allocate more storage to users, whereas neither Microsoft Exchange nor IBMs Lotus Notes were built to scale to this size.

The new security and compliance features are available now from Google at no additional charge, meaning users can get them for the $50 per-user, per-year price that Google is using to lure customers from Microsoft and IBM.

Glotzbach said the features may be added like any other Google Apps service, through simple set up and configuration from inside the GAPE administration console.

Moreover, Google is offering a gesture of good faith for faithful Postini users. All existing Postini customers are entitled to a no-cost trial of GAPE through June 2008.


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