Productivity software

Gaining Postini features is a boost for Google Apps

Google Apps will become a more secure and easier-to-manage collaboration and communication suite now that Google has started integrating e-mail security features into it from its Postini suite.

That’s the consensus from several industry analysts regarding Google’s decision last week to replicate some Postini features within Apps to simplify IT administration and beef up the suite’s security.

“The long-awaited unification of Postini and Gmail management consoles will certainly create operational efficiencies for Gmail shops, and is likely to create increased uptake of the Postini features,” Gartner analyst Matt Cain said via e-mail.

Industry analyst Michael Osterman from Osterman Research calls the move “an excellent idea” because security functionality is most effective when it’s “baked into” messaging and productivity applications.

“It is essential that any vendor offering email and other messaging functionality include security capabilities. Google has been doing that, but as separate offerings,” Osterman said via e-mail.

Google is also tapping into the trend toward interface consolidation, aimed at simplifying systems management tasks for IT administrators, he said.

“We have seen for years in our surveys that admins want a ‘single pane of glass’ to be able to manage security, policies, access rights, etc., and integration of Postini functionality with Apps is what the market wants,” Osterman said.

However, Google shouldn’t stop at integrating Postini e-mail security capabilities but rather consider including other Postini functionality, like e-mail archiving, said Brian Hill, a Forrester Research analyst.

Currently, Google markets Postini features via four products, but the Apps integration plan includes only one of them: Google Message Security, which provides antivirus protection, spam filtering and content compliance.

The other main Postini services—Message Discovery, Message Continuity and Message Encryption, for e-mail archiving, replication and compliance, respectively—are not part of the effort.

Hill said that while the integration of Message Security is a good step, Apps customers would benefit even more if Google also included functionality from the other Postini products, especially archiving features from Message Discovery.

Google would also do well to beef up the capabilities of Message Discovery so that it can support a broader range of file types and access from more devices, including mobile ones, Hill said.

“Google’s announcement is encouraging but it still has some catching up to do,” Hill said in a phone interview.

The migration of Message Security features will start with the Objectionable Content and Content Compliance e-mail security settings, which are designed for automatically flagging e-mail messages that contain certain words, phrases and text or numerical patterns.

Eventually, all Message Security functionality will be merged with Apps, except with the standard version, which is limited to 10 users.

Currently, Message Security is packaged as a complementary product at no extra cost with several Apps versions: Business, Government and Education’s K-12 schools, but not universities.

The other three Postini suites—Message Discovery, Message Continuity and Message Encryption—are available to Apps customers at an extra cost.

Google plans to continue offering Message Security and the other Postini suites as standalone products for customers who don’t use Google Apps.

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