Email security, compliance upgraded in Google Apps

Security upgrade and increased storage could help Google compete against the Microsoft Office set of workplace tools, says analyst

Google's acquisition of e-mail security vendor Postini is paying off for Google Apps enterprise users, who are gaining access to extra security and compliance features.

The Google Apps Premier Edition will remain at its current price tag of US$50 per user, per year, despite significant upgrades based on Postini's software-as-a-service offerings, Google officials say. Google is also upping Gmail capacity for Premier Edition users from 10GB to 25GB.

"This is virtually unlimited storage," says Matthew Glotzbach, head of products for Google's Enterprise group.

Both moves could help Google compete against the Microsoft Office set of workplace tools, which has long dominated the business market. Google is quickly ramping up the feature set for Apps Premier Edition, says Gartner analyst Tom Austin, who says he counted 37 significant enhancements to the software-as-a-service platform between February and June.

"I would be very surprised if there isn't another major announcement from Google this month, two more in November . . . and on and on," Austin says.

Google added a presentations application last month to Apps, which already included email, calendaring, instant messaging, voice chat, documents and spreadsheets.

Gmail already had spam and virus blockers, but now Google Apps Premier Edition gives businesses new configurable options, such as a whitelist and centrally managed content policy to filter messages that contain certain words or attachments. The Postini features also let administrators add footers to every outbound message, so you don't have to rely on employees adding text describing email confidentiality policies, Glotzbach says.

"There's a whole realm of legal compliance around tagging messages in different ways," he says.

Companies can use the new features to block outgoing messages that mention particular products, competitors or employee names, or spreadsheets that have proprietary financial data, Glotzbach says.

"This is really an enterprise class system that gives a tremendous amount of flexibility and control to IT administrators to define those content policies," he says.

Postini services fit well with Google Apps, because they are also offered in the software-as-a-service model, he says.

The Postini products now bundled with Google Apps will continue to be sold separately as well, according to Glotzbach. Some of Postini's more sophisticated offerings won't be available free to Google Apps users.

Postini sells an archiving product that helps with legal compliance and e-discovery, which Google Apps users can buy as an add-on. Without the add-on, organisations that use Apps can see all of their messages from the past 90 days with a message recovery feature, but some businesses need storage going back years to meet regulatory requirements.

The price of the archiving add-on varies dramatically but generally starts at US$150 per user per year, Glotzbach says.

Postini customers will be offered a free trial of Google Apps through June 2008.

Google says it is also adding configurable mail routing to make it easier for customers to use multiple email systems in addition to Apps.

Google has made a big impact on the email and collaboration market, but large enterprises still gravitate more toward Microsoft Office, Austin notes.

"Big businesses today are showing a lot of interest in [Google Apps] primarily to get into a negotiating club with Microsoft, to influence Microsoft's pricing on enterprise agreements," he says.

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Tags workplace toolsSaaSpostiniGoogle Apps

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