Postini Email Security Service to Transition to Google Apps
Google is shutting down the Postini email service it bought in 2007. The email security and archiving system has about 26 million users. Businesses who use the service will have to transition to Google Apps by the end of 2013. Gmail security functions are already available for customers who were using Postini with Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Notes. Customers will use Google Vault to carry out Postini's email archiving and discovery functions. CNET has a more detailed account of the transition.
Although Google is trying to make the transition seamless and has allocated more than one year for the transition, existing Postini customers will have to make some changes. The Postini email security system worked by having customers re-route their emails through the Postini servers. Postini software examined those emails for viruses and applied spam detection algorithms. The new Google apps system works similarly, but the emails have to go to Google servers rather than Postini. Customers will have to change their MX records for their domains. Google has a guide with instructions about this and other changes. If you have a whitelist or SPF records on Postini, you have to add those to the Google Apps system manually.
Google offered the Postini services with an annual contract and a per-user fee. Many customers are small and midsize businesses that used the spam filtering and archiving features. Businesses with a Postini account will get an email notification 60 days before the expiration of their present contract with detailed instructions on the transition and on the features of the new system.
While insisting that each customer either transition or make arrangements with another supplier, Google will extend the contract for Postini for each customer until they complete their transition successfully. IT departments whose contract comes up for renewal before the end of 2012 will be able to renew their contracts as before. After Nov. 1, 2012, customers whose contracts expire in 2013 will get a 60-day warning that Google may not renew their contract. Those not wishing to transition will have to make other arrangements. Those transitioning to Google Apps will have their services continued until they have transferred everything. The new system will have the same cost as the Postini service.
Services Phased Out
In announcing the change, Google has decided to phase out services. Companies will no longer be able to use the Postini Small Business Edition nor Message Filtering. Antivirus and spam filtering are included in the Gmail security functions and Google Vault handles email archiving. Businesses will be able to configure the settings for the functions that Google is retaining through the Google Apps control panel.
The Postini service was inexpensive and allowed many small and midsize businesses to offer their employees an email service with advanced spam reduction and antivirus filtering. They were able to add this service to their own domain-based email or to Microsoft or Lotus email software. While Google insists that the new Google Apps service maintains these essential features, such a transition represents a risk and an expense for businesses.
Generally companies don't like changes in critical systems like email. This is especially true for smaller companies that have their resources stretched already. Changing an MX record is trivial but it represents a cost and, if someone puts a dot where it shouldn't be or forgets one, the email system crashes. Google has shut down a whole list of services recently, mainly on the consumer side. With the Postini business service, perhaps they should have considered continuing the service until the companies using it were ready to transfer.
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.