Postini competitors go after Google's customers

However, Google is confident it will retain these customers as its transitions them to Google Apps

E-mail security vendors are trying to lure Postini customers now that Google has announced plans to shut down the unit and migrate its customers to Google Apps.

Competitors announcing special offers for Postini customers include Barracuda Networks and Proofpoint. Meanwhile, on Twitter, the owner of Micro Enterprises told Postini customers: "We can help!" while Spambrella tweeted that "we welcome all current users of this service."

Postini rivals are reaching out to customers who may be uncertain about or opposed to Google's plan to move them to Apps, its cloud-based e-mail and collaboration suite.

Barracuda Networks is offering Postini customers six months of its Email Security Service and its Spam & Virus Firewall for free, while Proofpoint promises them a "free and easy migration."

However, Google maintains that it's going about this migration in way that will let it retain its Postini clients. "We don't want to lose these customers," said Adam Swidler, a senior manager with Google's Enterprise division. Postini is used to protect about 26 million end users.

Google has been transferring Postini functionality to Apps for several years, and had said in the past that its ultimate goal was to eventually migrate all of it. In the past two weeks, it has provided more details about this transition. Recent reports in the press and in social media outlets have incorrectly reported that Google plans to "kill" Postini and leave customers up in the air.

Rather, Google will offer them a migration path, and once they're on Apps, they will get similar but improved functionality, and on a technical platform that is stronger, Swidler said.

Users of the Postini product known today as Google Message Security, which includes spam and virus filtering, along with e-mail policy management, will get that functionality as part Google Apps for Business.

Users of Postini's Google Message Discovery will find its functionality replicated in Apps for Business and Apps Vault, an add-on that offers retention, archiving and e-discovery capabilities for email and chat messages.

Apps for Business costs $50 per user, per year, and with Apps Vault it costs $120 per user, per year. However, Postini users will continue to pay what they pay today for the Postini products -- $12 per user, per year for Google Message Security and an incremental $13 per user, per year for those who also use Google Message Discovery -- as long as they don't use any of the other Apps suite components, in which case the price would increase.

Regarding Postini's Google Message Encryption, Google said in an FAQ that it will provide more information about its plans "later this year." However, Swidler said Google plans to continue working with its current partner on this service, Zix Corp., to offer its cloud encryption service as an add-on option to Google Apps. Two other Postini products -- Google Message Filtering and Postini Small Business Edition -- have very small user bases and will be phased out.

After the transition, Postini customers will be able to continue using the Google e-mail security and discovery software in conjunction with their current e-mail clients and server software, such as on-premise Lotus Notes and Microsoft Exchange systems.

The transitions, which are expected to begin in earnest next year, should be "seamless" for those customers who have "straightforward" Postini configurations, he said.

In cases of more complex configurations, customers may need to pay attention to certain areas where some features have been re-architected in Apps, he said.

For now, Google is working on developing tools and utilities that'll help make the transition process "as transparent as possible for users," he said.

For Google Apps customers, the years-long process of transferring -- and improving upon -- Postini functionality has been aimed at making the suite stronger in the areas of the e-mail security, discovery and encryption. Longer term, Google plans to broaden the scope of Apps Vault so that it can also encompass all documents and data contained in the suite, in particular on its Drive online storage component, he said.

Juan Carlos Perez covers enterprise communication/collaboration suites, operating systems, browsers and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanCPerezIDG.

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