Look Out Microsoft! Here Comes Google and Postini

Opinion: The combination of Google and Postini is exactly what CIOs need for their corporate e-mail systems and what Microsoft doesn't offer.

When you think e-mail servers and service, do you think POP/SMTP and MAPI? Or, do Sarbanes-Oxley and HIPPA come to mind? If you think of the former, youre thinking like a system administrator; if youre thinking of the latter, youre a CIO.

Google, with its purchase of software security company Postini, is trying to win the hearts and minds of technology friendly users and administrators this time. No, they want to open the wallets of midmarket and enterprise CIOs. And, you know what? Theyre going to get those checkbooks opening.

Gmail, while trailing far behind Yahoo! Mail and Windows Live Hotmail, is quickly picking up users since it finally opened the doors to anyone. Not long after that, Google announced Google Apps Premier Edition.

For those of you who dont know it, Google Apps Premier Edition is a hosted office suite. It combines a customizable start page with chat, e-mail, calendaring, word processing, a spreadsheet and a simple Web page builder into a package that Google sells for $50 per user per year. For that, you also get a 99.9 percent SLA (service-level agreement) for Gmail uptime, and 24/7 phone support.

At $50 per user, you can set up your office users at a price well below any Microsoft deal. The list price per user per year for Microsoft Exchange is $225 and Microsoft Office Professional Edition will run you $499. Of course, Google Apps Premier does not offer a PowerPoint clone. Yet. Google seems to have that in the works too in a skunkworks project code-named Presently. Besides all that, Googles applications can read and write the older Microsoft Office formats like .doc and .xls.

Thats all well and good, but simply matching Microsoft in features and beating them on price hasnt proven to be a winning combination in the past, or wed all be running OpenOffice.org for our office suite and Evolution for our e-mail client today.

By acquiring Postini, though, I think Google for the first time is mounting a deadly serious offensive against the Microsoft Office monopoly. Postini isnt just the largest hosted secure e-mail provider out there with more than a billion messages handled a day. E-mail hosting by itself is nothing. Whats important is that Postini offers services to encrypt and archive e-mail and instant messages. In short, theyre offering the kind of e-mail and IM services that CIOs not only want, but need.

As Richi Jennings, lead analyst of Ferris Researchs e-mail security practice, explained, Postinis anti-spam and anti-virus technology is at best a minor reason for Google buying Postini. Gmail and its Google Apps cousin already have sound spam filtering technology—they dont need help from Postini. What Google needed was a way to round out its Google Apps story with solutions for its customers policy, compliance and archiving/e-discovery needs, he said.

/zimages/5/28571.gifClick here to read more about Google taking aim at the enterprise market.

David Ferris, president of Ferris Research, added that the combination of Google and Postini "will help make Google Apps more attractive for SMBs and enterprises."

Its not just HIPPA and SarbOx compliance software Google is buying; the Internet search king is also nailing down its online applications security

Dont take my word for it. Dr. Chenxi Wang, Forresters principal analyst for security thinks that Google is definitely looking to strengthen all angles for their enterprise apps.

"Enterprise customers typically have stringent demands on security, reliability, performance, etc. Google has the other operational aspects well covered with the exception of security," Wang said.

Next Page: Trouble ahead for Microsoft.