Google's new security and compliance offerings -- Google Message Filtering, Google Message Security, and Google Message Discovery -- will be made available to users of Google Apps and to users of other e-mail systems, including Lotus Notes, Microsoft Exchange, and Novell's Groupwise.
Google Message Filtering provides spam and malware filtering ($3 per user per year). Google Message Security combines Google Message Filtering with enhanced virus detection, outbound processing to prevent data leaks, and content policy management ($12 per user per year). Google Message Discovery includes the Filtering and Security services, plus one year of searchable message archiving ($25 per user per year, no storage limit), with additional years available for $10 per year per user.
Sundar Raghavan, product marketing manager from Google, said that Google is making these new services available because the threat landscape for e-mail users has been changing rapidly and the cost of complying with regulations keeps growing.
Asked whether Google sees the new services as a way to wean business customers off Exchange and Notes, Raghavan stressed that Google's aim is to provide customers with innovative choices. He nonetheless acknowledged that Google is providing a potential migration path to Google Apps. "We think once they get comfortable with it ... the customer experience will be so much better that they'll be ready to use Google Apps on much broader level," he said.
Rebecca Wettemann, VP of research at IT consultancy Nucleus Research, said Google's new services aren't necessarily a threat to the primacy of Microsoft Exchange. "I think what Google is doing is first preserving the Postini customer base," she said. Even so, she acknowledged, "It's certainly significant that they're offering this to run with any e-mail server."
"I think it will attract a lot of people out in the marketplace looking for better spam filtering," said Joseph Vaccone, founder of Excel Micro, a distributor of Google Apps Security and Compliance Products. Excel Micro currently manages about 140,000 e-mail accounts.
Vaccone expects Google's services to sell well because they're priced at half the amount of competing offerings. A Microsoft Exchange seat, he said, costs about $60 and doesn't include e-mail archiving. Microsoft lists Exchange 2007 client licenses for $67 on its Web site; the server software costs extra.
With so much spam and malware polluting the Internet, Vaccone says that small businesses just can't manage their own e-mail infrastructure effectively. "We're seeing a large number of clients come to the software-as-a-service model because the spam traffic is too great to do it yourself," he said.
Google Apps includes the Gmail e-mail service, Google Docs for word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations, Google Talk for instant messaging, and Google Calendar. According to Google, it's used by more than 500,000 businesses and thousands of universities.